Skip to main content

Full text of "The new spirit in the cinema : an analysis and interpretation of the parallel paths of the cinema, w"

See other formats


t""--> 




374 1 7 Niles Blvd StE^ 5 ' °" 494 ' 

Fremont, CA 94536 www.nilesfilmmuseum.org 



Scanned from the collections of 
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum 



Coordinated by the 
Media History Digital Library 
www.mediahistoryproject.org 



Funded by a donation from 
Jeff Joseph 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Media History Digital Library 



http://archive.org/details/newspiritincinemOOcart 



THE NEW SPIRIT 
IN THE CINEMA 




jH <u zj h. j, 




«3 — ~ E c 




_ 2 CJ 




.h ft ^ S H 

J-i _2 i— i S-c i- 

5 « o 5 
Pt3 b o s 




cape fi 
affiliate 

Sir Cc 
sts the 
wer tre; 








re, E& 
ncern i 
und is 
sugge 
ectPo 




3 c 2£'J3 




o ° a 3 




•- - u -X 




ft MgC|H 




m 7 1 <U 02 




~ « <u :- <_, 




- 3 - M ^ 










«-{.0 j* O 5 

.2 -o S co £ 




o (2 1 § o 




As: 
ted 
)art 
n te 
ay d 










2*3 co ^ 




• 3 o c w w 




Uh g +j ta rS 




The 
'he A 
onvic 
ransl 
eaof 


0) 
O 


r- 1 o ♦'-a 




en. 
in. 
ped 
:ene 
sic i 


o 

u 


u » es J a 

1h <U y " J n 


.3 


3 


X 


n the 
Basil 
s the 
; a sta 
but th 
See i 


c >, g».S ~ 




^3-° 2 ^ S 


5 


c~3 1: % 




a <u o 


s 


"totS ^ti £ 


C3 

i 

- 


W-Js c 2^ 

^-\ ru Si U 

bfM U OJ C3 


Puttin 
orthy. 
, Thes 
MattD 

en stage 


■"3 
u 

3 

c 

£ 


a ; £ es c <u 


O 


•s^s.a'3 £ 


3 


^ ca C -i-. -e 


so 


o. Tal 
John G 
of Ame 
as Cap 
ation be 


U 

> 

Z 


3 




90 

C 


c3 * c3 — 


a 



— 1 a«^8£ 



THE NEW SPIRIT 

IN THE 

CINEMA 



An Analysis and Interpretation of the Parallel 
Paths of the Cinema, which have led to the 
present Revolutionary Crisis forming a Study of 
the Cinema as an Instrument of Sociological 
Humanism 



By 
HUNTLY CARTER 

Author of " The New Spirit in Drama and Art." 

" The New Theatre of Max Reinhardt." 
The New Spirit in the European Drama (1914-25)." 
" The New Spirit in the Russian Theatre" etc. 




HAROLD SHAYLOR 

GOWER STREET 

LONDON 

w.c. 

1 



First Published - October, 1930 



Printed for Harold Shay lor Ltd., London 
by Ebenezer Baylis & Son Ltd., The Trinity Press, Worcester 
and bound by G. & J. Kitcat Ltd., London 



CONTENTS TABLE 

Page 

The Structural Bases Of The Book . . . x m 

(a) Origin of the book ------ xlv 

(&) Aim of the book ------ xx 

(c) Method; Architectural ----- xxiv 

1. Concept xxv 

2. Plan xxv 

3. Site xxv 

4. Foundation ------ xxvi 

5. Building Material xxvi 

6. Structure xxvii 

7. Manner xxviii 

8. General Characteristics ----- xxviii 

9. Limitations xxix 

10. Difficulties ------ xxx 

11. Definitions xxxiv 

12. Note to the First Edition - xxxiv 



PART I 

THE CONCEPT: PROBLEM 

Chap. 

I The Problem. Why The New Spirit? 
II The History Of The Machine 



13 



(a) Where it begins ----- 17 

(&) Sources of confusion of historical data - 18 

(c) Confusion of Illusion of Movement - - 23 

(d) The three-fold function of the Cinema - - 25 

1. Actuality. 

2. Phantasy. 

3. Fantasy. 



Ill The Personal Equation 



(a) How I approached the Cinema - - - 33 

(6) My ^Esthetic approach - 34 

(c) My Theatrical approach - - - 37 

(d) My Sociological approach - - - - 38 

(e) My Wartime experiences. Studying the re- 

actions of the folk .... 44 
v 



vi CONTENTS TABLE 

Ohaf. Page 

(/) England and France 1914-19 ... 49 

(g) The Art of the Cinema in Paris in 1916-1917 - 54 

(h) After the War. 1919-1928 .... 56 

(i) I face death in the Cinema 62 

(/) Poland ...... 72 

(fc) Baltic States 78 

(I) Hungary ...... go 

(w) Austria ...... 83 

(n) Czechoslovakia - 85 

(0) France ...... §9 

(P) Italy 96 

(q) Spain 96 



PART II 

BUILDING HOLLYWOOD 

IV The Fable. The Palace Of Gold And Its 
Wings Of Lead 



101 



V The Actuality 106 

(a) The Plan 106 

(6) The Site Ill 

(c) The Builders 116 

(d) Foundations ------ 117 

(e) The Materials : Natural, Vital, Human - - 124 
(/) The Structure and Organisation - - - 142 
(g) Production and Distribution - - - 150 
(h) Consumption : The Universal Appetite - - 152 

1. International. 

2. Architectural : - - 155 

The Chains of Golden 
Cinemas, 
(i) Content ------ 160 

1. Intentional. Sensation and Box Office 

Entertainment. Reflects the policy, 
principles and opinions of life in 
America seen through the eyes of the 
Film Kings. Involves the wholesale 
buying of current events and moods, 
and selling them at a big profit. 
Main division : American Economic 
Civilisation ----- 160 

2. Unintentional : Sociological Values - - 164 

(a) American Civilisation ... 134 

1. The Primitive Far West - 166 

2. The Transitional Far West. 

3. The Present-day Far West. 

(&) American Jazz Civilisation - - 169 



Chap. 



CONTENTS TABLE vn 

Page 

Present-day Society - 
(a) Economic : Crime. 
(&) Social: Sex. 

(c) American Comedy : 171 

The true laughter of America. 

(d) European and English Post- War 

Civilisations - 172 

Propaganda. 

Advertisement. 

Selling. 

Patriotism. 

Nationalism. 

War. 

Sex. 

Crime. 

Intense sensationalism has 
had the effect of leading 
producers to put, unin- 
tentionally, scientific 
values into pictures. 
Hence unintentional con- 
tributions to warology, 
sexology and crimino- 
logy and religion - - 175 

(e) The Evil That They Do - - 204 

(a) History without an histori- 
cal background - - - 204 

(6) Medicine according to Holly- 
wood 208 



PART III 

THE REVOLUTION 



VI The Talking Picture 



217 

(a) Summary ------ 217 

(&) Why a Revolution? 220 

(c) What is the cause? ----- 224 

(d) What is it like? 227 

(e) What is the effect? ----- 230 
The sudden change of the whole field of the 

Cinema Industry; of policy, principles and 
methods. Changes considered. New problems. 
New tools to resolve them. New American 
strategy to control the world market. Advance 
on the largest scale headed by the Western 
Electric. The lingual problem. Beginning of 
the Cinema Armageddon. 



viii CONTENTS TABLE 

Chap. Page 

PART IV 

THE WINGS OF LEAD OF HOLLYWOOD 
Before and After the Talkie " Revolution " 



237 



VII The Descent: The German Wing Of Holly- 
wood 

1. 1919-1925. Putting the Soul of Germany in 

pictures. Union of Commerce and Art - 247 

2. 1926-1928. A Wing of Hollywood 266 

3. 1929-30. Talkie. See Appendix 4. 



VIII The Castle In The Air : The Esthetic Wing 
Of Hollywood, Or The Art Of The 

Cinema 277 

(a) The Anti-censorship Crusade 277 

(&) Why a Wing of Hollywood? - - - 278 

(c) All sorts and conditions of people combine 

for strength in combat - 284 

(d) The English combination of Right, Centre, 

and Left forces ----- 285 

1. " The House of Silent Shadow." 

2. The Film Society. 

3. The Close Up coterie. 

4. The I.L.P. Masses Group. 

5. The Communist Front. 

(e) The Aims of the Forces 292 

IX The Riddle: The English Wing Of Holly- 
wood, And The Conjuring Trick ... 293 

(a) The Quota 293 

(6) The effect. The building of the English 

Picture Industry in two stages - - - 301 

1. The Quota Stage - ... 301 

(a) Concept 301 

(6) Policy 301 

(c) Motive .... 301 

(d) Organisation - 301 

(e) Consumption - - - 305 

1. Monopoly : Buying up Cine- 

mas. Adapting old theatres 
to new requirements. Build- 
ing Cinemas - - - 306 

2. Architecture : Problem of, - 308 

3. Cinema Finance - - - 313 

(a) Booming the Quota. 
(6) Gambling on the Quota. 

4. War : The American attack - 317 

2. The Talkie : Advance or Retreat? - 319 



CONTENTS TABLE ix 



Chap. Page 

X The Solution. The Russian Wing Of Holly- 
wood: The Affirmation Of The New 

Spirit 32s 

(a) History .... 330 

(ft) Production 337 

(c) Studios 338 

(d) Distribution, Exchange, Consumption - - 339 

(e) The Talkie 340 



PART V 

FULFILMENT: THE CINEMA OF ASPIRATION 

XI Organisation Of The New Spirit ... 345 

(a) What We Have Got : Mechanical Power. 

The Cinema City of Commerce - - - 349 

(6) The American Machine and the Mechanical 

Peril 350 

(c) England's Re-organisation Proposals - - 352 

1. The Museum Idea .... 353 

2. Amalgamations and Leagues - - - 355 

3. Dictatorship Idea .... 355 

4. Putting the Spirit of the Nation in Pic- 

tures Idea ----- 357 

5. The Multi-Lingual Plan 360 

6. Quota Revision ----- 360 

(d) What We Want : Subject-Power : The 

Cinema as the Cathedral of Humanity - - 361 

1. What it is : a new principle of power. 

2. Its practical use. 

3. Means of organising its use - - - 364 

(a) House of Vision, or House of 

Power ----- 364 

(6) Surveyors, architects, builders - 365 

(c) Unity of Theatre and Cinema - - 365 

(d) The New Civic Centre : the 

Theatre-Cinema as an organic 

part of the people - - - 366 



x CONTENTS TABLE 

Chap. Page 

PART VI 

Appendices 

1. Bibliography ------- 371 

2. Cinema activities of the five English leading men of 

letters. Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, H. G. 
Wells, Arnold Bennett, and Sir James Barrie. The 
meaning -.--.._ 374 

3. The Cinema as Art Form. Answers to questions 

addressed to Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy - 376 

4. Supplementary Material ..... 379 

A. Recent Developments and Figures. 

1. German. The U.F.A. Talkie (Ufatone) - 379 

B. Conditions of Cinema Industries. 

Pictures produced - - - 381 

1. Sweden 381 

2. Switzerland ----- 386 

3. England 386 

(a) " Instructional Films " activities. 

(6) The Bolshevist invasion of England 
and growth of pro-Bolshevist 
organisations and activities - - 387 



C. Unusual Cinemas and Pictures 387 
1. English. 

(a) Avenue Pavilion, " House of Silent 

Shadow" 387 

(&) The Film Society, London 392 

5. Acknowledgments ...... 393 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



ESCAPE 

THE ROSE OF PU-CHUI " - 
INGEBORG HOLM " - 
HERR ARNE's HOARD " 

the atonement of gosta berling " - 
finis terrae " 

maldone" 

an italian straw hat "- 

the fall of the house of usher " - 

EN RADE " 

SKY HIGH " 

FOX MOVIETONE STUDIO, HOLLYWOOD 
MR. BERNARD SHAW ON THE MOVIETONE - 
" THE SINGING FOOL " 
BILLIE DOVE 

LUCKY LARKIN " 

PARIS " 

DISRAELI " 

THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI " - 

CINDERELLA " - 

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN " 

A PRESENT-DAY DU BARRY " 

STENKA RAZIN " 

THE BLUE ANGEL " - 



Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

28 
36 

44 
60 

76 

84 

88 

90 

92 

140 

156 

174 
188 
204 

220 
228 
232 
244 
252 
268 
27O 
276 
300 



xii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

" THE THROW OF THE DICE " 304 

INTERIOR OF THE REGAL CINEMA, LONDON - - - 308 

DETY BOORY " 332 

POTEMKIN " 336 

POTEMKIN " 338 

MOTHER " 34O 

THE FRAGMENT OF AN EMPIRE " 348 

TURK SIB " 364 



INTRODUCTION 

The Structural Bases of the Book 

i. The book demanded to be written. There was a col- 
lection of materials and a theory that sprang therefrom, ready 
to throw a light upon and to give a new orientation to a current 
event of the greatest magnitude. There was the personal desire 
to make a material contribution towards the solution of a great 
problem of the epoch, the Cinema. 

2. There was a definite aim. To state and illustrate the 
Fall and Redemption of the Cinema. To reveal the present situa- 
tion in the Cinema; how it has arisen; how it may be met. To 
present a picture of the Cinema unfolding in Time and Space. 

3. There was an unlimited scope, — the Cinema as an 
organic part of human and social life. Hence a field of inquiry 
including the departments of Science, the natural, vital and 
human sciences. 

4. There was a new method; not compilation but 
creative construction. The material offered to lend itself to a 
form called " architectural structure." 

There was : 

1. A Plan or Lay-out. 

2. A Structure or Cinema World. 

3. Material; the outcome of first-hand observation, 

or drawn from records, official and press- 
cuttings. 

4. Manner, or style as it is sometimes called. 

5. There were general characteristics; — originality, 

interpretation, and those of a new kind of 

thriller, such as the new functional architecture 

claims to be. 

xiii 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

Let me expand these points to help reviewers who, in these 
days of money-making and motoring, have no time to read 
books, and whose chief qualifications for reviewing them are a 
marvellous gift of sensing inaccuracies that do not matter, and 
of missing the abiding values of a work of creation, or of lesser 
significant merit. I say this with no malice. I try to remember 
that we live at a time when the spirit which breathes in criticism 
is that of Push and Speed. 

Origin of the There are, broadly speaking, two sources 

whence good books spring. One is the inner 
necessity of the author to express himself. The 
other is the recognition by the author of the need 
of communicating, making known and intel- 
ligible, the results of an inquiry into the truth of 
a subject of interest to a vast number of human 
beings. 

From the first come good books that attempt 
to state experiences or to solve problems, 
psychological, aesthetic, and so on, for their own 
sake, and which therefore appeal to a few persons 
only. 

From the second comes the fill-the-gap sort of 
book, or the " timely " or " opportune " book, 
to give it but three of its distinguishing titles. 
This book in its best form aims to fill in a gap 
in our knowledge of a remarkable person, or 
thing that is occupying immediate attention. To 
complete our knowledge of what was in the mind 
of the first when in deeds or words he sought to 
throw a light on himself, his contemporaries, on 
past, present and future events of a vital import- 
ance. Or to interpret in the truest and broadest 
sense a current event that is exercising a powerful 
influence on the new civilisation, is a key of the 



INTRODUCTION xv 

present trend of human evolution; is, in short, 
making history. 

A third source of books is found in money. 
An author out to make money by means of the 
" timely " book, carefully watches for a " topic " 
and when it comes breathlessly compiles a book 
that has no particular merit except that of enter- 
taining a large number of readers who are fas- 
cinated by the game of catching the man of the 
moment, or the moment itself, on the hop, in a 
sensational, sentimental and silly manner. 

The present book springs from the second 
source. It is the outcome of years of patient 
observation, of painstaking inquiry, under the 
most difficult conditions encountered in the war 
and revolution swept areas of Western and 
Eastern Europe, into what is generally held to 
be the most significant instrument of human ex- 
pression to-day. I say generally held to be 
advisedly. Truly speaking, the Theatre is the 
most powerful and significant instrument of 
human expression; the Cinema is merely an 
auxiliary. But by a series of skilful and stragetic 
movements the Film Kings have succeeded in 
pushing the Cinema into the forefront of public 
appreciation, and of giving the Theatre the 
miserable semblance of a hanger-on. One day it 
seemed to them that the Cinema lacked a voice. 
So they stole the Voice of the Theatre and led 
everyone to understand that they did this in self- 
protection. In the darkness of ignorance they 
had pushed out the Eye of the Camera as this 
was interfering with their pocket and rest. 

For several years back I have been interested 
in the Cinema, not for the reasons that film 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

directors and old film stars give, that they want 
to make shattering records in picture making, 
or to be the boss of sets, or to indulge in activities 
that would take the attention of the inmates of 
an asylum for well-meaning dunces. I ap- 
proached the Cinema as a sociologist searching 
for social and human values. It seemed to me 
that the Cinema, like the Theatre, should be one 
of the chief ornaments and interpreters of 
humanity. And I noticed that humanity 
was never seen to worse advantage than when it 
was misinterpreted, as it has been too long, by 
the owners of this medium. 

It was as sociologist then that I accumulated a 
mass of records that came to give birth to a theory 
similar to one to which my pre-occupation with 
the Theatre had generated. Briefly stated the 
theory was that the Cinema truly considered is 
primarily an organic part of social and human 
life. I felt that I could do useful work by writ- 
ing a book to expand and illustrate this theory. 

At this point let me make a digression. 

A little more than a year ago I set out to write 
a book on " The New Spirit In The Russian 
Theatre.' ' This book had an origin similar to 
that of the present one. War, Revolution, travel 
in dark, dangerous and death-dealing places, 
collection of first-hand records, a theory of the 
moment, and the need of a book to state and 
illustrate the theory. The book duly appeared. 1 

What was the theory? That the Theatre is 
primarily an organic part of human life, and that 
the drama, rightly conceived, is a highly sen- 
sitive instrument of representation and interpre- 

i " The New Spirit in the Russian Theatre " (Brentano, 1929). 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

tation by means of which man may play with, 
understand and illuminate his experience in quest 
of a tolerable system of human life. 

Too metaphysical for most! 

Again, the Theatre when fulfilling its true 
vital function is an indispensable part of the 
social organism; and that function to-day is to 
express practical sociology which is a feature of 
present day thought and action. 

Nothing perplexing in that. Simply that the 
theatre of any country should be organised to 
reflect the working of the brain, heart and pulse 
of the whole people, and not to entertain the 
privileged few. In my book the term Theatre 
was used to include the drama. The Russian 
theatre was used as the best illustration of my 
theory that I could find. 

How many reviewers dealt with, or even per- 
ceived the theory and illustration? One hun- 
dred? Fifty? A dozen? Not half a dozen. 
Generally, they were intent on proving that they 
had not caught up to Comte. Sociology, as far 
as they were concerned, was an unknown thing. 

Yet it is the great thing of the moment. It 
offers the key of evolution. Its reflection by the 
Theatre and the Cinema is a reflection of the 
process of social evolution. 

To continue. The desire to write the book 
was suddenly intensified by the amazing situation 
that arose in the Cinema world with the coming 
of the Talkie in September, 1928. It is true, 
that signs had already appeared to warn every- 
body of a coming change. The Fox movietone 
had arrived to suggest a new entertainment. The 
astonished public saw Hollywood screen stars 



xviii INTRODUCTION 



augmented by eminent persons like Mr. 
George Bernard Shaw whose attempt to prove 
on the movietone screen that though Mussolini 
could govern a nation he could not waggle his 
high brow like Mr. Shaw, was excellent box- 
office stuff. But though it was evident that a 
revolution was about to take place, the Film 
Kings continued to argue in favour of the silent 
film. They maintained that the " movie " was 
attaining undreamed of heights. The big 
spectacular sentimental film of the Fox 1928-29 
programme was proclaimed from the studio top 
as the last word in perfection and extravagance. 
The million dollar picture had receded to the 
background as representing a contemptible out- 
lay, and the two million dollar one had taken its 
place. 

In the early days of 1928 millions of pounds 
flowed from the bursting coffers of the Film 
Kings and supporting bankers to capitalise their 
frantic endeavour to outdo each other in the pro- 
duction of the biggest and best commercial 
movies. 

Then it seemed as though a Demon or Con- 
juror waved a wand. And there was chaos. 
In the midst of unheard of confusion the Film 
Kings fitted the Voice which they had stolen 
from the Theatre, to the little black box. They 
plundered the Theatre of its priceless heirlooms, 
the objects and agents of interpretation and 
representation, authors, actors, producers, and so 
on, quite unaware that this raw material was no 
good for the Cinema; that Cinema human 
utilities are born not made. They took every- 
thing they could lay dollars on. It was perfectly 



INTRODUCTION xix 

plain to anyone who had an eye to see with, that 
something like a revolution had taken place. 
There was a complete and sudden change 
amounting to an overthrow of the old Cinema 
order, similar to the social overthrow which 
changed Russia from an Imperialist to a Bol- 
shevist country. If prophecies of coming events, 
— the coming of the giant screen, and the all- 
colour, stereoscopic picture, are fulfilled it may 
appear to future historians as a revolution of revo- 
lutions. In any case, a new and perplexing situa- 
tion arose. Theatrical folk knitted their brows 
and were unable to sleep at night. Everyone 
went mad. The whole public career of the 
Cinema was called up for review, judgment, and 
prophesy. It was as though a giant company 
promoter had suddenly gone smash. The first 
shock of surprise and alarm was magnified into 
an almost morbid interest in the origin, career, 
" personality," " mode of living," associates, and 
the rest of the more or less intimate affairs of a 
big business man who, by a staggering blow of 
misfortune, suddenly becomes the centre of public 
attention. 

The history of the Cinema from September, 
1928, on, is then the history of a remarkable 
cinematic revolution. The progress made by the 
Cinema as the genius of magic movement, has 
been overshadowed by the plot of a group of 
Film Kings to overthrow the silent picture ap- 
parently for the sake of advance, really for the 
sake of gain. Cinematographically speaking, we 
live at the most critical period in the history of 
the Cinema. This great instrument of human 
expression has reached the parting of the ways. 



xx INTRODUCTION 

We are about to witness, either its emergence as 
a mighty auxiliary of the Theatre, capable of re- 
flecting those epic subjects which the Theatre 
by reason of its limitations, can never hope to 
reflect, or its disruption and disappearance in the 
quicksands of over-reaching financial ambition. 1 
To the few persons who have kept their heads 
during this unparalleled period of tumult, who 
have witnessed the wild fight for and against 
organised monopoly, it is clear that an event of 
the utmost historical importance is taking place. 
They have been brought suddenly face to face 
with the questions : Is the Cinema about to take 
a form that will enable it to contribute most 
materially (if not spiritually also) to the benefit 
of mankind? Is it about to fulfil its proper 
function for mankind ? Is it about to reveal itself 
as an organic part of human life and society? 
Or is it about to dwindle into an instrument of 
expression of sensationalism at the last gasp and 
of profit-mongering, beneath contempt? 

Aim of the ^hat was what tempted me to undertake 

Book : To suggest ^ 

the path from the task of writing the book. It seemed 

the Over-lordship . , . 

of Money to to me that such questions, as questions 
o^ense'td 811 ^ springing from the main question of the 
Human Purpose. pj ace f t h e Cinema in the new civilised world, 
and its power of rousing and reflecting the vital 
interests of a new civilised community, called for 
consideration in a book, and that my inquiry 
into the nature and value of the Cinema, and my 
theory of the new spirit (new because neglected 
or suppressed) were fit matters for a book, especi- 
ally as my line of inquiry and its outcome, the 
theory of the Cinema fulfilling a human func- 
i See " Note to the First Edition." 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

tion, were just the things to explain and intro- 
duce the present outburst of the " revolutionary 
spirit, and to provide answers to the questions of 
the meaning and significance and proper 
direction of the revolution. I saw that the 
object must be to determine what is the true 
spirit, or purpose of the Cinema; what has been 
done to divert or promote that spirit; what kind 
of Cinema have we got to-day, and how is it 
fulfilling or promising to fulfil its purpose. It 
is according to that purpose that I have tried to 
shape the following inquiry. The questions I 
have set myself to answer are human ones. They 
are not the how and why of the technique of 
mechanics, not the how and why of the technique 
of aesthetic, not questions of the birth, growth 
and development of apparatus. They are the 
how and why of the human use of the Cinema, 
of the reactions of human beings to and against its 
good and bad influence. 

The task I have undertaken is to state and 
consider the three concepts (and the polices, 
methods, etc., arising from them), of the Cinema 
that for years have been and still are struggling 
with each other for pre-dominance and thereby 
causing chaos. The commercial concept that has 
chained the Cinema to gold, and has made it a 
house of entertainment controlled by a box-office; 
the semi-commercial concept that has linked the 
Cinema with purposeless aesthetic experiment, 
and argues that the function of the Cinema is to 
apply art principles to the illusion of movement; 
the non-commercial or social concept that has 
given the Cinema a human purpose, and argues 
that the Cinema is an instrument on which the 



xxii INTRODUCTION 



people as a whole should play; they must utilise 
it for the expression of their memory and aspira- 
tion, for their ambitions, desires, prejudices, the 
longing for and attainment of that liberty upon 
which the War and after events have fixed their 
attention. That, in short, it must be used to 
study and understand humanity, and in this way 
serve the great and vital interests of each country. 
I have sought to show that the aesthetic con- 
cept is really a part of that money concept which 
at the moment actuates the film world. Money 
is the over-lord both of the Theatre and the 
Cinema as we know them to-day. The Film 
Societies and little advance guard Film organisa- 
tions argue that they cannot exist unless there is 
sufficient money to pay expenses. They argue 
that they exhibit films for the good of society, 
and that society must pay in gold for this much 
good conferred upon it. This means that they 
are thinking in terms of financial investment and 
dividend. While they condemn the money in- 
vestment system, they cry aloud for the million- 
aire to invest his unholy gains in their specula- 
tion. It seems to me important to point out that 
these organisations are part of the great organised 
system of gambling which at present appears to 
overpower the good purpose of the Cinema, 
though not wholly, as I shall show. If it is 
necessary to get to the roots of this system in 
order to do away with it, as I think it is, then it 
must be shown that it is wrong for organisations 
whose business it is to oppose it, to become en- 
meshed in it. There is no excuse for acquiesing 
in a system which they repudiate by implication, 
at any rate. The position of the semi-commercial 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

or aesthetic Film Guild is examined elsewhere in 
this book. 

It may be stated here that the book seeks to 
show that the Cinema as it is to-day, is largely 
an outcome of conditions imposed upon it by the 
Financial Age which has succeeded the great 
Industrial Age. It mainly represents a vast 
industry with a financial investment basis, 
a monetary policy and with business organisa- 
tion principles. This basis and policy are 
extremely harmful, for while the Cinema 
represents money-production only money produc- 
tion can be got out of it. Humanly speak- 
ing, it should rest not on money economics, 
but on energy economics, the kind of energy 
power, or energy conservation and expenditure 
that the new economist has in mind. Hence the 
question arises, can anything be done to supply 
the energy basis which, alone, can enable the 
Cinema to fulfil its true function for man? The 
book attempts to answer this question by sug- 
gesting that man himself is the Cinema. It does 
not exist outside of himself. And the new spirit 
that I have observed is that of the Cinema ful- 
filling a human function, despite its fetters of 
gold. 
Scope. It will be gathered from the statement of aim 

that the book has a very wide scope. Indeed the 
ground covered is that of the past, present and pos- 
sible of the Cinema, the new commercialised tool 
of expression that has penetrated to the remotest 
corners of the earth, where it has been, and is, 
exerting a powerful influence on human thought 
and action, according to its past and present 
shape. The Camera is shown as it has appeared 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

to me unfolding in Time and Space, detecting 
and recording, in a more or less dramatic and 
thrilling way, the different aspects of the Great 
Gamble which is the striking feature of human 
life to-day. The complete picture of this 
dramatic theme obtained by sifting, assembling, 
editing, pasting together the bits of film or 
records, is the picture of the scope of the book. 
No one I think is more fond of analogies than 
I am, and the fascinating story of the Cinema 
evokes many similitudes. It has much that is 
analogous to the amazing story of the Great 
Financial Gamble; it has something analogous to 
the Bible story of the Fall and Redemption of 
Man to which I shall come presently; something 
analogous to the story of Croesus and Solon, of 
Gold crushing Wisdom. As the Cinema is 
attracting the close attention of all manner of 
men and women it may not be unreasonable to 
employ different similitudes to set forth the 
course of a remarkable career. 
Method. it is necessary to say something about method, 

because a book that presents a subject from a new 
point of view, and with a wealth of detail that 
seems to be the outcome of a process of gathering, 
sifting and classifying records and innumerable 
facts, is apt to be mistaken for an interesting 
piece of compilation and nothing more, and 
mercilessly dismissed as such. 

My method is not a compilation. It is a con- 
struction, and I am vain enough to believe that 
it is a creative construction. I think I am correct 
in calling the result of my method an archi- 
tectural structure. The method itself is analogous 
to building. I have considered the Cinema, with 



INTRODUCTION 



XXV 



1. Concept. 

2. Plan. 



3. Site or 
Surface. 



its industry and manifold activities, as a vast city 
expressing that maximum of financial power and 
might, and that minimum of real human values 
which characterise the money-power city of the 
present Age. And I have striven to realise this 
City stage by stage, and in such a way that its 
defects could be noted and the means to remove 
them recognised and applied. 

Briefly the stages are : 

A building determined by fitness for purpose. 

A plan determined not by style, but by fitness 
for purpose. A lay-out that would bring the 
mighty and unbounded world of the Cinema into 
view, that would admit of its arrangement into 
different sections, or plots, each complete in itself, 
yet each having a relation to the other, and all 
others, and would provide for such extensions, 
changes or developments, as might be necessi- 
tated by natural growth or radical reform. In 
other words, a plan for the erection of a structure 
designed to afford a comprehensive view of the 
Cinema world in the past, present and possible, 
so as to enable everybody to see what this world 
is, how it has become what it is, and what it will 
become if it be evolved from the natural starting- 
point to which the amazing events of the past 
year appear to have brought it. The reader will 
find the proposals for this advance considered in 
the section on Fulfilment. 

The site is determined by the plan. It con- 
sists of a centralised surface like that of an im- 
mense international exhibition, that can be 
divided into plots for the erection of different 
groups or masses, — Hollywood, London, Berlin 
and Moscow, according to the functions they 



XXVI 



INTRODUCTION 



4. Foundation. 



Building 
Material. 



were designed to fulfil, and in a manner that 
enables them easily to be compared. 

The foundation is determined by plan, — fit- 
ness for purpose. The purpose falls roughly into 
two divisions, (a) Money-making, (b) Liberation. 
The foundation of (a) is Money-Power or 
Finance-Capital ; of (b) Energy-Power, or Energy- 
Capital. The first belongs to the great com- 
mercial Cinema; the second is the starting-point 
of what may become an equally great co-opera- 
tive Cinema. 

The building material is determined by fitness 
for purpose, and at the same time it determines 
the structure, just as steel and glass have broken 
old architectural conventions, and have led the 
new architects of France, Germany and Russia to 
realise extraordinary concepts of functional 
architecture. It will be shown that the material 
which the Cinema builders found ready to hand, 
comes within the region of the three sciences, 
natural, vital and human, or those concerning 
geography, occupations, and the people or 
workers, to which geography and occupations 
have given birth. It will be shown how Holly- 
wood provided the first building requisite, a 
natural geographical beginning, which called 
forth the second, the vast American Cinema In- 
dustry, and that, in turn the third, a colony of the 
workers of all kinds moulded by that Industry. 
The material which I have used to build my book 
is derived from four sources: first-hand observa- 
tion; records; press cuttings; and press publicity 
material circulated by the big Film Producing 
companies. A reason may be given for the use 
of press cuttings and publicity material. I de- 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

cided to use newspaper cuttings because a great 
deal of verifiable information, facts and figures, 
is contained in news " stories " and views nowa- 
day that is not to be found elsewhere without 
long and painstaking labour. " Newspapers give 
us the curve registered by that seismograph the 
world ; their news paragraphs emphasize the daily 
drama which is being enacted all around us, and 
the workings of science, history, economics and 
politics." 1 Publicity material, likewise, is a ready 
source of information. I have found that it 
throws very much light on the more or less inti- 
mate facts of the machinery for the production, 
distribution and consumption of cinema com- 
modities, and on the personalities and careers of 
those engaged in these activities. " Publicity is 
one of the greatest essentials in a stage or film 
career." 2 This principle is fully recognised and 
applied by the Film Kings and all in their em- 
ploy. They realise the news value of everything 
they do, and accordingly everything they do gets 
the widest advertisement. For this reason their 
publicity sheets are full of " revelation of a 
kind. 

6 - The The main mass is an American industrial mass 

Structure. . 

that resembles a living organism. Its component 
parts are : 

i. Department of Organisation. 

2. Department of Production. 

3. Department of Distribution and Ex- 

change. 

4. Department of Consumption. 

1 " The City of To-morrow." By Le Corbusier. English edition, p. 131. 
3 C. B. Cochran, in The Film Weekly, Vol. 2; No. 97. 



XXV111 



INTRODUCTION 



Manner of 
the Book. 



General 
Charac- 
teristics. 



2. Smaller adjoining masses. 

i. Berlin. German industrial mass 
that seeks to separate itself from 
the main mass. 

2. London. English industrial mass 

also seeking separation. 

3. Small mass with an aesthetic func- 

tion joined to the main mass by 
commercial interests. 

4. Moscow. An industrial mass with 

a liberation function striving to 
secure separation from the other 
masses but connected with them 
by economic necessity. 

This seems to call for explanation because it 
resembles that of my previous book. 1 To most 
of my critics the manner of the latter was in- 
explicable. To one or two it was determined by 
subject. Perhaps I can best describe it in the 
words of an intelligent American reviewer who 
saw that I was setting up my house according to 
functional requirements and was not writing an 
encyclopaedia. " The book is an example of the 
functional theory of writing: it is a good book 
not by virtue of decoration, but by virtue of fit- 
ness to material." 2 Like the African wizard, I 
took my bits of straw and clay and whatever was 
essential and stuck them together in the form of 
a structure whose exterior is the language of 
the purpose it contains. 

It is not extravagant to call this a first book. It 
may be the first really comprehensive sociological 



1 " The New Spirit in the Russian Theatre. 
(Brentano, 1929). 

2 Hallie Flanagan. New York, U.S.A. 



By Huntly Carter 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

study of the Cinema. So far as I know, it is the 
first attempt to express the synoptic vision of the 
wide cinema world. In any case, it is the first 
book to consider the Cinema as an organic part 
of human and social life, and, as such, a natural 
and organic part of the theatrical machinery. It 
is original, not by reason of its material, much 
of which is clearly open to common use, but by 
reason of its point of view and the ingenious 
arrangement of its material. Further, it is inter- 
pretative. It is designed not only to exhibit an 
array of facts, but to show their relation to the 
spirit of the age. Finally, it may be said to be 
a thriller. Writing of my just-mentioned pre- 
vious book 1 , a reviewer observes, " so thrilling 
are the facts (of the Russian theatre) he (the 
author) presents." . . . The story of the 
Cinema and the Spirit of the Age likewise con- 
tains all the ingredients of a first-class " thriller." 
The hero is the magician in the little Black Box; 
the heroine is the Good Purpose; the villain is 
the Demon in the Box Office who strives to 
separate them; the end is the death of the 
villain slain by his own cupidity, and the 
marriage of the Magician and Good Purpose. 
That is the whole thing; it is a thriller which 
could be written in magic language by any- 
one who has the gift, and who glories in 
fantasy. 
9. Limitations. There are limitations. Enough has been said 
to indicate that the book is not a technical 
treatise on the subject of the Cinema. A good 
many technical treatises are in existence already. 

1 " The New Spirit in the Russian Theatre." By Huntly Carter 
(Brentano, 1929). 



xxx INTRODUCTION 

Indeed to judge by the amount of technical stuff 
that pours from the Press and from the inter- 
national publishing houses, it seems as though 
writers on the Cinema have gone mad on 
technique, or what appears to be technique but 
is really guesswork. Some day nearer the mil- 
ienium the men of the Cinema will recognise 
that the golden rule of film making is : Take care 
of the subject and technique will take care of 
itself. At the present time there is emerging, as 
this book shows, the foundations of a science of 
film making 1 . It is, however, not the purpose 
of the book to explain the " art and craft " of 
the Cinema from their humble and clumsy be- 
ginnings to the present stage of mechanical and 
aesthetic ingenuity and efficiency with yields 
such results as may be seen in the best films. To 
the unreflective mind these films are marvels 
indeed. But to the reflective one they are sad 
illustrations of the use of tricks to conceal the 
absence of the real miracle, the development of 
the Cinema as an instrument which shall appeal 
to the human needs of mankind everywhere and 
in a manner suited to each succeeding age. In 
brief, the limitations are those imposed by what 
I might term a study of cinema humanism, or 
the Cinema considered as a humanising, even 
civilising, factor. 
10. Difficulties. Much might be said about difficulties. I will, 
however, mention but one — that of obtaining 
essential sociological data. To me Hollywood is 
the most perfect illustration of the present-day, 
Comte-Leplay-Geddes, three-fold theory of Place, 
Work and People, the theory, that is, of human 

1 See " Pudovkin on Film Technique." 1929. 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

life and labour originated by locality, or region. 1 
This theory is very finely illustrated, perhaps un- 
consciously, by Jean Epstein, in his production 
of " Finis Terrae," which was exhibited at the 
enterprising Avenue Pavilion. 2 I say uncon- 
sciously because it is most likely that the pro- 
ducer was mainly concerned with " entertain- 
ment " values, such as are to be found in a good 
sentimental, artistic and human film. He may 
not have been aware of the extraordinary socio- 
logical values of the subject. Yet there they were 
all the time. One detected the evolutionary 
process of a region (wild sea coast) producing a 
natural commodity (seaweed) in great abund- 
ance, and this in turn calling forth a community 
of primitive and hardy fishers to gather, prepare 
and market the commodity, and so to subsist on 
this labour, while developing the characteristics 
of their environment and function. 

Hollywood has had a similar natural evolu- 
tion, as natural as that of some of our great in- 
dustrial centres, cotton, brewing, mining, etc. A 
very instructive form of drama resides in its 
unified, unfolding life and labour during the past 
fifteen years, a full description of which would 
have added to the importance of this book. But 
the necessary material for a complete picture of 
the evolutionary process was not forthcoming. 
By all accounts natural scientists have not dis- 
covered Hollywood as yet, probably because it 
was originally a desert, not worth much scientific 
attention. The result is there is no regional 
survey of Hollywood, at least I have not seen 

1 See " The Sociological Journal." Also works on " Making of the 
Future." Edited by Patrick Geddes and Victor Branford (1917). 

2 October 14, 1929. 



xxxii INTRODUCTION 

one, and though there is an overwhelming flow 
of facts of Hollywood life and labour, the facts 
of the geographical aspects, physical facts of 
geology, climate, temperature, and so on, of that 
wonderful combination of natural features which 
made the Hollywood Film City inevitable upon 
the birth of the Cinema, are not to be had, except 
from the more or less sentimental guesswork 
impressions of visitors. 

The many difficulties experienced in the 
attempt to study the reactions of populations to 
the Cinema in the war and revolution areas, 
would take too long to explain. In the chapter on 
The Personal Equation, wherein I tell the story 
of my adventures in search of first-hand evidence, 
the reader may, if he likes, imagine them for 
himself. 

With regard to London as a world cinema 
industry centre, there are regional surveys that 
enable one to see what natural advantages this 
centre possesses to promote film life and labour. 
But the industry itself is too young, and its exten- 
sions as yet too uncertain, to permit the inquirer 
to make a definite and complete London cinema 
industry survey. The most that can be done at 
present is to compare such natural and commer- 
cial advantages as London possesses with those 
of Hollywood. Anyone who does so will find 
that commercially London has considerable 
advantages over Hollywood, especially as the new 
conditions of production set up by the present 
" revolution " of the picture promises to transfer 
the American cinema industry to New York and 
its suburbs 1 . The Talkie has set Hollywood 

1 See Film Weekly, November 18, 1929, p. 5. 



INTRODUCTION xxxiii 

moving on, like Poor Jo. Now, it moves 
Londonward. 

There is one other difficulty that demands to 
be mentioned. It is that of writing a book on 
the Cinema that shall not be out of date as soon 
as it is written. The Cinema is moving with 
unexpected rapidity. It advances and retreats by 
turns. The present change seems to say that it 
has gone back to scratch for a fresh start all over 
again, from the very point where years ago it 
began to take the wrong path. Twenty years or 
more of development have been crowded into 
the past fifteen months. The grand scale possi- 
bilities of the Cinema have become recognised 
as never before. Talkie after talkie, colour pic- 
ture film after colour picture have appeared 
treading upon each other's heels to announce 
that something new is taking place, and to sug- 
gest that something is about to emerge the 
magnitude and importance of which is being 
predicted by the Film Kings in such terms as 
Grandeur Films, Giant Films, and so on. Maybe 
it is something that will enable the Cinema to 
solve its own problem, and thereby to fulfil its 
function for man, both separately and as an 
organic part of the theatre. 

The book came to be written at a moment 
when, in fact, the Cinema was at the parting of 
the ways. It was a moment when one vast 
cinema building had reached completion and 
another, and perhaps vaster, was demanding to 
be erected. 

These circumstances produced the problem of 
writing a book not only of the moment but of 
permanent value. The only solution was to 



XXXIV 



INTRODUCTION 

make past and present records as permanent as 
possible, and to handle possibilities in such a way 
as to suggest that a book will be needed some 
day to take up the story where the present one 
leaves off. 1 



11. Definitions. 



Significant words are so much misused to-day 
that definitions of some used in this book seem 
necessary. A few definitions are given in the 

body of the book. 

12. Acknowledg- 
ments. 

These are placed at the end of the book 

owing to the late arrival of some supplementary 

material, 
i See " Note to the First Edition." 



NOTE TO THE FIRST EDITION 

Since this work was completed there has been an un- 
avoidable delay in publication which has given to some of the 
matter of immediate interest an air of staleness (also, let me 
hope, of prophecy). A slight loss of freshness in some of the 
details was to be expected in any case, in a work of research 
on a subject that is undergoing swift change and development. 
How swiftly the Cinema has changed since it entered the padded 
cell of the microphone and took to talking two years ago, need 
not be described here. We know that the cell has expanded 
to admit the open, and has lost its novelty. And we know 
that already new mechanical forces are being put to practical 
use, which had hardly been utilised six months ago. The work 
was planned and written at the close of one great historical 
period of the Cinema and at the beginning of another, and 
perhaps greater. It was a moment when the mighty Film 
Kings were beginning to build another (a Talkie) story upon 
the mammoth and long established money-production organisa- 
tion called Hollywood. They hoped thus to overcome the 
dangerous cracks and fissures which they detected in their struc- 
ture and apparatus, due to public revolt against the long con- 
tinued bankruptcy of subject. They have now a harder task 
before them than the replacing of ethical subject by mechanical 
novelty. They must build story upon story in the full knowl- 
edge that it is a temporary expedient to stave off ultimate 
collapse. They can never, in this way, solve the true problem 
of the Cinema. That problem is the problem of Subject-power, 
not mechanical-power. Subject progress is stronger than 
mechanical policy; the Cinema race is for the most progressive 
in Subject-power, not for the most powerful in Talkie mumble. 

XXXV 



PART I 



i. THE CONCEPT 



CHAPTER I 

THE PROBLEM. WHY THE NEW SPIRIT? 

Not long ago, hearing that I was preparing the present book, 
and noting the title, Mr. John Galsworthy inquired of me, 
" Is there a New Spirit in the Cinema? " The question is a 
natural one for two reasons. In the first place, the film is still 
so crude in many particulars, its subject retains so many of its 
early rudimentary characteristics, that it is hard to believe that 
a new spirit has actually made its appearance. In the second 
place, many persons regard the Cinema as a wonderful thing 
that was born yesterday and therefore is much too near the date 
of its birth to manifest anything but the spirit with which it 
was born. There has not been time for the old spirit to give 
place to a new one. Just as many of us think that writers are 
still too near the great war to produce the truly great war 
epic, and that, therefore, authors of so-called great war books 
like " All quiet on the Western Front," by Remarque, " The 
Case of Sergeant Grischa," by Arnold Zweig, have accomplished 
only what the present-day perspective has enabled them to ac- 
complish. 

Perhaps the term " New Spirit " is perplexing. It is one 
of those significant terms which have come to lose their meaning 
through ignorant misuse. But it must be admitted that the 
word " spirit is a vague one like the word " soul " which 
it is now the fashion to use at random. Recently, Mr. J. L. 
Garvin made the astounding discovery that his newspaper has 
a soul. 1 No more sensational discovery has been made since 
the. celebrated Mr. Hannen Swafrer discovered that he was about 

i " The Soul of a Newspaper." Observer. 17 November, 1929. 



4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to attain his fiftieth birthday. 1 No doubt Mr. Galsworthy 
would have understood me better if I had said, The New Pur- 
pose, or even New Movement, although movement is not what 
I have in mind. Then he would have altered his question and 
inquired, "Is there a New Movement? " and might, without 
waiting for my reply have added, " Yes. You are of course 
referring to the Talkie Revolution." 

I am not referring to the " Talkie Revolution," new though 
that event appears to the man in the street, and to one or two 
persons of sense who are still undecided as to its merit. I 
refer to a purpose in the Cinema which has been there from the 
first, which has been striving to assert itself throughout the 
Cinema's comparatively short career, but has been held down 
by the commercial hand. 

I remember receiving a letter from a friend, Professor 
Wincenty Lutozlawski, of Wilno, Poland. It seemed that his 
attention had been drawn to two books of mine by their titles, 2 
and having read the books he was curious to know whether 
I attached a spiritualistic meaning to the term " New Spirit." 
I will take the liberty of quoting an extract or two from his 
letters. He explained that he is a student of reincarnation 
and has written an important book on the subject 3 in which 
he " Proves by new convincingly decisive arguments that old 
truth so well known in India, Greece, Celtic Gaul, now very 
much acknowledged chiefly in Poland, and France, also by such 
modern English writers as Tennyson, Browning, Kipling, 
Matthew Arnold, Carpenter, Lafcadio Hearn, etc. — that many 
of us have lived in human shape many times before, and we 
reap now what we have sown ages ago." After which he in- 
quired, " Do you think that the New Spirit consists in the 
awakening of the soul, in the discovery that we are eternal beings 
with a long past which explains the present? "... 

1 World's Press News, November 7, 1929, p. 3. 

2 " The New Spirit in the European Theatre " (Benn). " The New 
Spirit in the Russian Theatre " (Brentano). 

3 " Pre-existence and Reincarnation," 1928. 



THE PROBLEM 5 

" This may not be expressly avowed but it seems to me that it 
is implicit in what you call the New Spirit." Probably a 
similar interpretation actuated the Theosophy Company when 
it invited me to expand, in an article, the thesis contained in 
my book, 1 that the Theatre (which includes the Drama) is an 
organic part of human and social life. I have long held the 
belief that the Theatre is a part of the " spirit " or " soul " of 
humanity. It was originally projected by human need. Hence 
this " spirit " or " soul " is an eternal thing that is potential 
in human things. It comes to the surface when human beings 
are at their freest and best; it remains submerged, it may be 
for long periods, when they are enslaved and at their worst. 
I do not think that " the awakening of the ' soul ' comes with 
the discovery that we are eternal beings with a long past that 
explains the present." I think that it comes through the agency 
of an extraordinary event, one that strips human beings of illu- 
sion and brings them into sudden and close proximity to the 
eternal verities that move and govern human society, or one 
that suddenly moves a whole nation with an intense desire for 
fine achievement. An example of the first event may be found 
in the twentieth century war and revolution which drove into 
the background as matters of comparatively small importance, 
many of those false interests with which human thought 
and action had become clogged up, thus releasing the vital 
springs of action. There has been during the post-war period 
a strong movement towards freedom of development, in particu- 
lar on the part of young people. 

An example of the second event is the Renaissance which 
suffused" Italy with the glow of a real cultural existence. 2 
Another and political example near our own time is found in 
Poland where war, the menace of revolution, and Marshal 
Pilsudski's influence are said to have had the effect of awaken- 

1 " The New Spirit in the Russian Theatre." Huntly Carter. 
(Brentano, 1929). 

2 See " The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy." By Jacob 
Burckhardt. 



6 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ing the people to a sense of intense patriotism. They have 
sought patriotism in everything with the result that they have 
regained confidence under which they have lost fear of Bol- 
shevism. 

As rny book is not a metaphysical treatise I will not pursue 
this kind of definition further. The term New Spirit came into 
my works under the disguise of Purpose, or let me say Good 
Purpose to distinguish it from Bad Purpose which, I think, is 
the real cause of the unhappy state of the Western European 
and American theatres and cinemas. The thing I want to 
make clear is what I have in mind when I say that the Cinema 
has a New Purpose, that is, Purpose not in the theological sense 
of Design, but in the human one of Service. I think I can best 
show what this Purpose is, how it came into being, its path and 
its present position and possibilities, by pointing out the analogy 
to the old Bible story of human life and that of the story of 
the life of the Cinema. It seems to me that a religious simili- 
tude is likely to be an attractive one, for human beings are 
now in such a religious mood that the great Film Kings have 
taken to building cathedrals to exploit it. "A motion picture 
cathedral as the more grandiose establishments (cinemas) are 
now known in America." 1 There is no doubt that a remark- 
able feature of to-day is, as anyone can see by reference to the 
public prints, the big wave of religious curiosity. There is a 
general search for an object of faith, for contentment, for an 
explanation of life and conduct, in the old religions, in particu- 
lar Christianity, in the re-interpretation of religion, in the re- 
discovery of the Christ of the first century, and in the new creeds. 
Political legislation is suspect. Party politics no longer satisfies 
the people. Social organisation leaves them cold because its 
importance has not been made clear and intelligible to them. 
Changing environment is not yet understood as a revelation 
of the changing mind of the community. Present-day science 
is too much concerned with externals, and is far too pro- 

1 Ivor Brown in The Manchester Guardian, October 12, 1929. 



THE PROBLEM 7 

ductive of charlatans and dark superstition, a state of things that 
leaves the public a prey to abject fear, and clouds the mind 
with confusion that obscures the hope of spiritual rebirth. 

If we closely examine the picture of the present wide-spread 
religious mood we shall detect a noteworthy thing. There are 
signs of a return to the Bible for guidance and inspiration, no 
longer in the old theological way, but in the new humanistic 
one. The Bible is now seen to have attributes by which it is 
possible to interpret the present by the past. It is accepted as 
a record of discovery. "It is a travel journal of the road to 
spiritual truth, and at times the explorers are down in the 
swamps, and sometimes they are on the hillside, and sometimes 
they dip again into jungles, and then again they climb." 1 The 
Cinema explorers are on the point of climbing. 

The comparison of the Two Seeds, — Satan's and the 
Woman's — to the Two Purposes of the Cinema is a simple and 
instructive one. The things compared are different in kind, but 
they possess a similarity that makes the one illustrative of the 
other. On the one hand there is the Evil Seed setting Man on 
the downward path with its culmination in Armageddon and 
its outcome the birth of a new race of men. On the other there 
is Bad Purpose setting the Cinema on the downward path with 
its present culmination in the Battle of the Giants and its 
promised outcome the triumph of the Good Purpose. 

But to make the comparison intelligible to the generality 
of human beings material facts must be made to resemble each 
other. The resemblance should turn on a current relevant cir- 
cumstance. That circumstance is the mad scramble for gold. 
If we study the Bible carefully we shall learn that greed and 
avarice have been universal ever since Satan began selling Hell 
to Eve. Indeed the more we look into this matter the more 
convinced we shall be that Satan was a sort of Croesus whose 
object was to make a hireling of Man as Solon. Probably he 
was the first gambler. He put Hell on the market and invited 

1 The Evening News, October 2G, 1929. 



8 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

everybody to invest in it. Near the end of the nineteenth cen- 
tury the Cinema was put on the market with a bad purpose. 
Since then all the peoples of the world have come to invest in it, 
either as shareholders or spectators. It is computed that Holly- 
wood makes nearly ^30,000,000 annual profit out of the Euro- 
pean investments. American Talkie production firms are draw- 
ing ^7,000,000 a year from England. This is not to be won- 
dered at for we live in the Financial Age when everything is 
conceived in terms of financial investment and dividend, of buy- 
ing and selling, of speculation and gambling. So far the Cinema 
has trod an organised path of gambling. 

The Bible is a magnificent literary work expressing the 
greatest form of drama, — the unfolding of human life under the 
touch of Evil. If we may believe Bible prophecy, human beings 
are now beginning the last act of the mighty play. The last 
act is Armageddon and the coming of a new Leader and a 
new human race. Probably by new human race is meant the 
survivors of the old one starting again from the very beginning 
and taking the high road instead of the low one. The time 
covered by this play is many centuries. The scene represents 
the earth. Christ is the Hero. He is in love with the human 
race whom he desires to unite with a spiritual purpose. Satan 
is the villain who has taken possession of the human race for 
an evil purpose. He is the obstacle to be overcome. How to 
overcome it, that is the burning question? 

The play opens with an act of creation. " In the beginning 
God created heaven and Earth." 1 " He planted a garden east- 
ward in Eden." 2 There He put a perfect man and woman for 
the purpose of establishing a working model of Heaven on earth. 
And He appointed Lucifer to take control and instruct Adam 
and Eve in the task of founding perfectibility on earth. Now 
Lucifer had a vast ambition. He wanted a dominion of his 
own, and he saw that the best way to obtain one was to buy the 

1 Genesis I., 1. 
2 Genesis II, 8. 



THE PROBLEM 9 

perfect man and woman and shape them and their offspring 
to people his dominion. He was the first exploiter of human 
beings, and he made a corner in Sin with which to capture the 
human race, just as some American Film Kings made a corner in 
American cinemas in order to place exhibitors under their rule. 
They would have succeeded if the American State officials had 
not interfered to stop their game of monopoly. 

Lucifer's plot was discovered and he was turned out of 
heaven together with a number of his followers who were 
qualified to assist him to embark on his system of company pro- 
moting. His firm became known as Satan & Co., and all con- 
cerned had the peculiar advantage of being able to dematerialise 
themselves whenever a business collapse threatened; an advan- 
tage which present-day company promoters would be very glad 
to possess. Satan fully realised that there would soon be a bill 
of sale on Hell, as his dominion was called, unless he success- 
fully launched his scheme of humanity exploitation. His first 
step was to sell Sin to Eve, who in turn sold it to Adam. As it 
was not current coin in Eden, they soon had to face bankruptcy 
and expulsion. Under the guidance of Satan they and their 
children (save Abel, who was slaughtered by Cain) and children's 
children, their successors and associates and kinsmen, formed 
Trust companies for capitalising the manufacture and distribu- 
tion of varieties of Sin according to recipes supplied by Satan. 
Thus Sin became commercialised like the Cinema became com- 
mercialised by Hollywood. Faust made a deal with Mephis- 
topheles. In 15 17 Martin Luther made his powerful protest 
against his over-commercialised Church. 

In time Satan's subjection of mankind to the processes of 
Evil brought down the Flood, or a sort of Wall Street record 
fluid collapse that involved Hollywood. Noah and his perfect 
family survived for the purpose of restoring the celestial system 
of perfectibility. But Satan and his crew were not drowned, 
only dematerialised, and at the first opportunity they obtained 
their discharge from bankruptcy and began again in the invest- 



io THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ment and dividend business. He bought up efficient tools — 
autocrats and despots — implements of the production of general 
corruption and debasement. He sold permission to these over- 
seers to trade in human beings and to apply false principles of 
virtue. Gambling became universal. Men bought and sold 
each other. They set up the Golden Calf and fell down and 
worshipped it. Keeping an eye on the main chance became 
fashionable. Then came Babylon, meaning the Gateway to 
God, now known as the City of Demons, as Hollywood came 
first to be known as a wing of the City of the Angels (Los 
Angeles), and thereafter as the City of Gold. The demons are 
still with us. They appear to have over-reached the minds of 
all men, even the intelligent ones. For nowaday the whole 
world is a Stock Exchange and men and women are merely 
mad gamblers. 

Satan's success in persuading the generality of men to buy 
shares in his Sin market brought forth the critics, the seers and 
the prophets of old, just as the evils of the great Industrial 
Revolution brought forth the socialist critics. They foretold the 
coming of the Messiah, His system of Redemption, the inevit- 
ability of Armageddon and its consequence in a new Leader 
and new race, and by doing so they gave a fresh direction to 
Satan's activity, that of seeking to destroy the Messianic hope 
and the Messiah Himself. But Satan's investment in fear and 
hate was insufficient to prevent the Divine Birth or Physical 
Incarnation, and the delayed commercialisation of Christianity. 
It is true that the Satan-inspired Judas Iscariot sold his Master 
for money. But the first-century Christ was not an investment. 
He had no cathedrals, churches, chapels, and other ecclesiastical 
machinery for exploiting Him and placing His doctrines on the 
market. It was not till two centuries later that the buying and 
selling of Christianity became organised, and vast machinery 
was erected resting upon gold, and designed to serve the function 
of selling heaven (in the form of salvation) for money, just as 
" Lord Beaverbrook has undertaken to ' sell ' his Empire Free 



THE PROBLEM n 

Trade Policy to the Empire," 1 though for a different purpose 
— a politico-economic one. It was not till the Church became 
allied to the State that the gambling in Christianity became 
universal, as it was not till the Cinema became allied to Big 
Business that the Cinema became a box office. 

Billions of people have been led to invest in heaven and 
have received as dividends a maximum of delusion and a mini- 
mum of spiritual consolation. They have been led to put their 
money on Divine Wisdom and forgiveness and to lean heavily 
on old theology and old guess-work religion, instead of cultivat- 
ing self-support, self-discipline, self-control and self-vitalisation. 
These practices do not require money. 

The subjects, mythological and other, with which the Bible 
deals are then human ones analogous to those of the present 
Financial Age. Buying and selling predominate. Human life 
is shown to be under the powerful influence of a demoniac 
agency as it may be said to be to-day. The main subject is that 
of The Two Seeds, Satan's and The Woman's; the one com- 
mercial, the other non-commercial. Satan undertook to sell his 
seed to the human race, and no one has ever undertaken a more 
stupendous task, or been more successful. To sell Sin in its 
seven deadly forms so as to set humanity on the wrong path, 
and to keep it descending in spite of repeated attempts to divert 
it to the right one, was no mean achievement. It absorbed all 
his energy, and by all accounts the end is near. The old 
prophets, 2 and the recent interpretations of prophecy, like those 
of The Pyramid, 3 point to some big event about to take place 
of an Armageddon-like character that will make a clearance of 
wrong-doers and put right-doers on the true path which all 
human beings should have followed from the beginning. In 
other words the neglected seed will take root and as life ascends 



i World's Press News, November 7th, 1929, p. 21. 

2 See " Books of Prophecy." 

3 See Davidson's " Great Pyramid Theories." Beginning in The 
Morning Post, 28 September, 1929. 



12 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

and trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit appear, so the law 
of liberty will come into operation. 

I will place by the side of the Bible story of the two seeds 
the Cinema story of the two purposes. It is another story of 
wrong organisation and the reaping of gold instead of human 
values. In other words, it is the story of the commercialisation 
of the Cinema. It is similar in many ways to the Bible story. 
There is a similar plot to exploit the Bad Purpose, to extend 
the mischief to the ends of the earth, and to keep the Cinema 
and all concerned with it, rolling down towards a pit of general 
debasement, and there are the signs that a limit has been reached 
and something is about to happen to give the Good Purpose in 
the Cinema an opportunity to fulfil itself. This neglected Good 
Purpose is the New Spirit which was in the Cinema at the 
beginning, which has asserted itself from time to time according 
to human need, as I shall demonstrate in the chapter on The 
Personal Equation, and which appears to be on the point of 
conscious development. In other words, the Cinema is about 
to solve its own problem at last, that of taking its place as an 
organic part of human life and society. It has a vital function 
to fulfil for man, both on its own part and as an auxiliary of the 
Theatre. If I see rightly, the beginning of the true life of the 
Cinema is here. There are signs that the Cinema is, so far as 
Subject is concerned, back to scratch for a fresh start. 



THE PROBLEM 
Analysis of the Analogy 



13 



10. 
11. 



12. 



13- 



Bible. 

The Creation. 

Garden of Eden. 

Sin and Expulsion. 

The Descent. 

The Flood. 

Babylon. 

The Golden Calf. 

The Seed Disseminated. 

Revelations. Summary of 
Prophecies. 

Armageddon. 

After? 

The New Leader and Race. 

The New Spirit in the Un- 
developed Seed. 



Cinema. 

1. The Creation. 

2. The Inventors' Garden of 

Eden. 

3. The Investment and Divi- 

dend Machine. 

4. Fully Commercialised. 

5. The War. 

6. Hollywood as the Gateway 

to Klondyke. 

7. The Worship of the 

Cinema as a Box-Office. 
Cinema Penetration. 
The Great Failure 1924-8. 
The War of the Talkie 

Giants 1929 and 
After? 
The United Cinema and 

Theatre. 
The Undeveloped Purpose 

as the New Spirit. 



8. 

9- 
10. 



11. 

12. 

13- 



CHAPTER II 

HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 

In the foregoing chapter I have shown that the book rests on 
the argument that the Cinema truly conceived is an organic part 
of human life and society. It has a function to fulfil for man 
which hitherto it has not been permitted to fulfil. It has been 
developed as a machine for making money and in such a fashion 
that human debasement has followed. And I have implied 
that there are two concepts struggling for supremacy, — one is 
that the Cinema is an investment and dividend-making concern; 
the other is that the Cinema has a purpose of its own which 
has nothing to do with organised money-making. The first has 
turned it into a gambling machine such as the civilised world has 
never known before. 

It will be recalled that when Mr. Philip Snowden, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed the delegates at the 
Labour conference held at Brighton during October, 1929, on 
the subject of the Bank Rate, he told his hearers that " an orgy 
of speculation had completely deprived the U.S. Federal 
Reserve Board of control of the money market." Further that, 
" there must be something wrong needing attention when an 
orgy of speculation in a country 3,000 miles away should dis- 
locate the financial system here (in England) and inflict grave 
suffering upon workers in practically every country in the world. 
That was a matter to which serious attention must be directed." 1 

Now if Mr. Snowden and his fellow cabinet ministers were 
acquainted with the history and present conditions of the Theatre 
and Cinema they would be aware that the foregoing statement 

1 Daily Herald, October 4, 1929. 

14 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 15 

applies not only to the financial situation but to the Theatre and 
Cinema systems in civilised countries outside America. If Mr. 
Snowden had said there must be something wrong needing 
attention when an orgy of speculation in a country 3,000 miles 
away impedes and imperils the advance here in England of two 
highly sensitive instruments of expression, and cuts ofl peoples 
in all countries from the proper development and the full and 
proper use of such instruments, and it is a matter to which seri- 
ous attention must be directed, he would simply have stated the 
truth that the Theatre and Cinema in this country are part and 
parcel of a vast system of financial speculation, the foundations 
of which were laid by American business men who invaded 
this country in the eighteen-nineties to take possession of the 
English theatre for the purpose of laying the foundations of a 
business science, and by others who invaded the country about 
1900 for the purpose of collaring the English cinema and placing 
it securely on a scientific business base that should equal, if not 
outrival, that upon which a great Department Store, like, say 
Selfridge's rests. In short, the object of the Americans was to 
capture not only the English cinema but all other cinemas for a 
commercial end. 

It may be said at this point that this book is not intended 
to throw stones and mud at the Big Business Builders of the 
American Film Industry, Fox, Warners, Goldwyn, and so on. 
It may be true that, as one writer says, " When the Future of 
Hell is written a large number of pages will have to be reserved 
for the Americans who make films." 1 And it is true that they 
are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the (Financial) time. 2 
It is well known that they have risen from very humble begin- 
nings, have gambled recklessly, have had astounding reverses, 
and have succeeded in making fabulous fortunes. They have 
stated these facts themselves and have not hesitated to make 
them appear as thrilling as possible in order to amaze people. 

1 " Heraclitus, or The Future of the Film," by Ernest Betts, p. 40. 

2 " Hamlet," Act 2, Sc. 2. 



16 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Men of their type are a severe criticism of our present social 
system. But it should be remembered that sociologically they 
are in the line of evolution, they are in fact the inevitable out- 
come of the time. We live in a Financial Age in which money 
is the mainspring of thought and action, and money is a symbol 
which is used to interpret new forms of expression. And the 
Big users of money are also symbols evolved by the symbolic 
money system. The Financial Age has succeeded the Industrial 
Revolution Age and its symbols, and will be succeeded by the 
Technical Age with its new and inevitable symbols. The Film 
Kings are symbols of money power and they are in possession 
of special or individual power to employ methods of expression 
by means of money. If their intent appears to be an evil one 
it is because evil resides in money. Unless we can do away with 
money entirely as a medium of exchange, as the Bolshevists 
tried to do in the early years of the Revolution, then we must 
recognise its symbols and understand that they indicate a peculiar 
power which the time requires. To-day the power is, I think, 
that of business organisation on a financial basis. Such power 
is a gift that certainly distinguishes the Film Kings whatever 
their money-grabbing propensities may be. As the history of 
the past twenty years shows there never has been such a period 
of organisation of commercial entertainment. Croesus is cer- 
tainly king, and Solon and Thespis are his hirelings. 

That much is made plain by a study of the scientific his- 
tory of the Cinema. I mean the technique of mechanics. 
Throughout attention has been rivetted on the Cinema as a 
mechanical tool while Wisdom in the form of Subject has merely 
been left out. The excuse is that Subject must be either of 
universal interest or omitted, and since the majority of human 
beings are still in the rodent stage, the universal subject must not 
offend the rodent taste. Whether this thesis can vindicate the 
claim of the Cinema to supply stupidity at from tuppence to 
fifteen shillings a helping will be shown in the next chapter. 

It is noteworthy that at first the Money Lords had nothing 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 17 

to do with the Little Black Box with an Eye and an ambition. 
By all accounts the Lord of the Golden Calf does not concern 
himself with potentialities and possibilities of magic things till 
they begin to promise Big Profits. There are men who bring 
the new wonders into subjection to the financial hypothesis, who 
conduct them from the limited realm of magic to the unbounded 
realm of commercialism. These are the creators, the liberators 
of genii, the pioneers who open up new paths, the men who 
are nearest to the all-powerful processes of Nature. They are 
the chief ornaments of humanity who, however, are not per- 
mitted to adorn humanity, but some obscure dust heap. The 
generality of them are expected to die poor; and generally speak- 
ing they do not disappoint expectation. The men who come 
after them benefit, the organisers, the exploiters, the gamblers. 
To-day the practitioners have an unfailing spring of gold by 
means of which they gather round them strong and nimble 
talent that enables them to win mechanical victories at great 
cost, like that of the Talkie, to the vastly increased value of 
their banking accounts, and thus to stop a general flight from 
the Cinema, like the historical American one of 1924-28, which 
the expenditure of millions and millions of pounds on mammoth 
cinemas, and entertainment innovations could not stem. By 
luck they found a new attraction in the Talkie and the boom 
of the Talkie saved their financial lives. 

The history of Cinematography (considered as a science), 
of which only an outline will be given here, principally because 
the book is a study of sociological expression in the Cinema, or 
of the Cinema as an organic part of social life, and not one of 
mechanical science, may, for all practical purposes, be said to 
have begun with photography. That is to say, not with the 
men who ground lenses and made experiments as early as 
Leonardo da Vinci's time, and with him, but with those who 
related photography to the principle of rotating pictures, shaped 
and fitted the camera, and invented the film and sprocket wheel. 
Preceding this start was a fairly long period of abstract science, 



18 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

and a still longer period of drawings. In due course abstract 
drawing became related to the experiments with lantern slides. 

These three paths of research and experiment have become 
mixed. Various theories, such as the persistence of vision, the 
portrayal of movement by drawings, have become confused 
with one another. Ingenious minds have done their best to 
remove boundaries, and to make inquiry into origins and 
developments very hard. Here and there an over industrious 
investigator has thrown the origin of the moving picture back 
to cave drawings. What have abstractions like primitive cave 
drawings to do with living photographs, or a series of mechanical 
snapshots? ; ' The Cinema at the Dawn of History," is a fine 
sounding title and for that reason no doubt it is attractive to the 
historian in search of sensation and pence. While the picture 
of the cave man laying the foundations of Hollywood is a cer- 
tain draw if well done. 

Some persons know nothing about Cinema history. All 
the same they say that Hollywood was founded and is run by 
living cave men. But that is a matter of opinion. 

On the whole then, the path of the seeker after the truth 
of the origin of the motion picture, as we know it to-day, is a 
tortuous and hazardous one. It is long, strange and involved. 
The theory of the portrayal of movement has wobbled very 
much, now keeping to its own path, now seeking to enter upon 
a path full of queer turnings and twistings, of ups and downs, 
of odd little alleys, more than one blind one, and it has success- 
fully slipped out of the verifiable in to the unverifiable. 

Let me point out a few sources of confusion. The prin- 
cipal is the neglect or inability to distinguish between illusion of 
movement expressed by drawings from the earliest to the latest 
time, and the portrayal of actual or living movement by a 
machine, or photographic means; the one being the outcome of 
human observation and sensibility, the other, the reflection of 
actual movement by a mechanical process — a process that ex- 
cludes human sensibility. Then comes conflicting evidence; gaps 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 19 

in the chain of evidence; facts and figures not substantially 
endorsed, or unendorsed; unjustifiable claims to authenticity. 
Then there are statements based on fragmentary knowledge, or 
proceeding from the desire to raise the market value of examples 
of old mechanical toys collected by investors. Then, wrong 
attributions; wrong dates; wrong description of structure and 
function, and so on. All these and other sources of confusion 
help to make an attempt to pick out the true milestones of the 
career of the Cinema a very tiresome job. 

Here are some examples of confusing facts and dates. 

In 1832 Plateau invented the Stroboscope and Stampfer the 
Phenafystoscope. 1 In 1835 Plateau invented the Phena\isto- 
scope and Stampfer the Stroboscope. 2 In 1872 Edward Muy- 
bridge, in seeking to prove to the satisfaction of an American 
Senator (no name given) that a horse when trotting lifts all four 
feet off the ground at once, secured a picture that was practically 
the beginning of the moving picture as it is known to-day. 3 In 
1877 Muybridge proved to Senator Stanford, by a number of 
cameras electrically worked to get successive photographs, that 
a horse lifts all four feet off the ground when trotting. 4 In 1872 
Leland Stanford wished to investigate the gait of the horse. 
Stanford assigned the photographic problem to John D. Isaacs, 
an engineer, who contrived a battery of cameras with electrical 
shutter controls. The shutter mechanisms were improved and 
the speed of photographic materials were increased, permitting 
at last the first photographic records of objects in rapid motion. 
Edward Muybridge operated the Isaacs' apparatus installed at 
Palo Alto on Stanford's stock farm. The pictures made were 
analysis in motion, synthesis was still to come. 5 

The late William Friese-Greene, of Bristol, made the fore- 
runner of the modern motion picture camera in 1839, several 

1 " The Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 

2 W. Day, in The Times Film Number, March 19, 1929. 
s Ibid. 

4 << The Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 
* " Bncy. Brit.," Vol. 15, 14th Ed., 855. 



20 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

years before Edison came to the front in this connection. 1 (The 
date may be a misprint for 1889.) In 1889 Friese-Greene in- 
vented the camera which admitted of a series of intermittent 
photographs to be taken on a band of sensitised celluloid film. 
He was the inventor of commercial cinematography. He in- 
vented the first camera. 2 Friese-Greene was the first by three 
years to invent the film. 3 In 1890 Edison solved the final 
problems by replacing glass plates by a flexible film, inventing a 
machine to pass this film through a camera and before a pro- 
jecting light. 4 In 1899 George Eastman replaced glass plates 
by a flexible film. 5 In 1899 George Eastman invented the 
modern film. 6 In 1887 Edison attacked the final problems. 7 
In 1889 George Eastman began the manufacture of films on a 
nitro-cellulose base. 8 

In 1890, the first film ever taken shows a scene at Hyde 
Park Corner. 9 August Lumiere was the pioneer of cinemato- 
graphy (about the eighteen nineties). 10 Kinematography 1892. 11 
The first picture projected. No picture was ever projected on 
a screen till 1896. 12 The first colour picture was projected in 
1895. 13 In 1890 Friese-Greene projected his pictures on a screen 
at Chester. 14 In March, 1896, there was a Cinema entertain- 
ment at the Alhambra — surely one of the first in London. An 
Englishman, Robert Paul, exhibited the " Animatograph " and 
a tentative engagement was extended to one of a year. 15 Mr. 
Paul is the man who projected the very first picture on a screen 



1 The Daily News, September 9, 1929. 

2 W. Day, in The Times Film Number, March 19, 1929. 

3 W. Day, in The Evening News, November 19, 1929. 

4 » The Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 

5 " The King Who Was A King," by H. G. Wells. 

e " xhe Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 
7 " Ency. Brit.," Vol. 15, 14th Ed., 855. 
s Ibid. 

9 The Daily News, November, 1928. 

10 The Evening Standard, October 14, 1929. 

11 Labour " Historical Synopsis," Sheet IV., 1876-1899. 

12 The Film Weekly, November 1, 1929. 

13 Ibid. 

14 The Times Film Number, March 19, 1929. 

1 5 Londoner's Diary, The Evening Standard, December 6, 1929. 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 21 

at the Royal Institution in February, 1896. 1 Meissonier, the 
painter, synthesized the photographic analysis into motion pic- 
tures by projecting transparences on a machine similar to the Heyl 
phasmatrope. 2 By 1890 the " moving picture " was in existence. 3 
I shall leave my readers to compare these statements. From 
the various records of the history of Cinematography it appears 
that theory, experiment and practice with which inventors and 
others have been concerned according to their lights, fall broadly 
into two groups: — drawings and abstract science, and photo- 
graphy. The commercial history of the Cinema has followed 
the solution of the first important problems of photography, 
like that of the rapid plate, in its relation to the film. 

This book begins with the commercial history of the 
Cinema. It seeks to show that if commercialism had not been 
introduced to the extent it has been, the Cinema might have 
had a far different career, and its good purpose would not have 
been buried by the bad one under a heap of the latter's misdeeds. 
The Cinema has been treated as a financial investment. The 
Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 revealed that every section of 
society has come to invest its money in it, and has expected 
heavy dividends. It revealed that bankers, financiers, and big 
plungers of all sorts have regarded it as a part of the Stock 
Exchange machinery. So closely indeed have they united it 
with that machinery that when an unparallelled period of 
gambling in stocks and shares was followed by an equally un- 
parallelled collapse of the machinery, and a sum of no less than 
^2,000,000,000 was lost by investors, so deeply did this state of 
things affect Hollywood that this mighty Cinema Babylon was 
compelled to cease work for nearly four months, thus offering 
the competing Hollywoods in other countries a moment to look 
round to see whether they could overcome the encroachments 
of the American octopus. 4 In this way the Cinema has been 

1 Daily paper. 

2 " Ency. Brit.," Vol. 15, 14th Ed., 855. 

3 " The King Who Was A King," by H. G. Wells. 

4 See Sunday Referee, December 15, 1929. 



22 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

locked up in a gold mine and its natural growth impeded in 
consequence. Thomas Edison had the first finger in the com- 
mercial pie when on April 14th, 1894, his kinetoscope made its 
first appearance at a kinetoscope parlour at Broadway, New 
York. But the machine was not a " Gold Rush " for Edison. 
It found its way abroad where, as the invention was not pro- 
tected by patents, it fell into the jaws of the sharks. It was 
rescued from this unhappy position by Edison's union with his 
chief competitor, the Biograph Co., which till then had been 
opposing Edison by marketing a machine of its own. A 
demand for Edison's machine arose. But it appears there were 
still problems of the Cinema to be solved, that of the projector 
for instance. In 1895 came me Vitascope which applied a 
principle discovered by Thomas Armat, — the principle of the 
modern projector, a film movement which gave each successive 
image a period of rest and illumination. In 1896 Robert W. 
Paul demonstrated the projecting machine, the theatrograph. 
The commercial career of the motion picture on the screen began 
with the presentation of the Armat machine as the Vitascope 
at Koster and Bials Music Hall, Herald Square, New York. 
To these activities must be related the continued influence of 
the Lumiere Brothers. 1 The main fact that emerges from these 
statements is that the commercial history of the Cinema begins 
between 1894 and 1896. 

A word may be said here with regard to the aesthetic con- 
sequence of putting on record inventions and discoveries which 
rightly considered do not come within the province of the 
Cinema. To-day the terms " illusion " and " illusion of move- 
ment " are frequently used to describe living photography or 
moving pictures of actual human life. It is not correct to 
describe living photography as " illusion of movement " any 
more than it is to describe a " still " picture or dead photograph, 
as an illusion of stationary objects, or the alphabet as a picto- 

1 See " Ency. Brit.," 14th Ed., 1929, Vol. 15, p. 855. Also, " The Film 
Finds Its Tongue," Fitzhugh Green, p. 100. 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 23 

graph method. It is correct to say that illusion of movement in 
pictures has existed ever since Man began to express his wants 
and to communicate himself in the ancient dynamic way by 
cave drawing and design, really symbolic drawing and design. 
A' cave drawing of an abstraction of a crocodile walking along 
the ground, or of a cassowary pecking at a seed possesses the 
illusion of movement. Such method of burdening a drawing 
with a story or meaning has existed from the dawn of human 
life, and when a writer on the history of the Cinema carries the 
attention of the student of that history back to " the delineation 
of the trotting boar with complete sets of legs, drawn by the 
Cro-Magnon race centuries before the Christian era," 1 he is 
luring him into the maze of the technique of aesthetic into which 
so many present-day directors have wandered beyond sense and 
escape. 

Famous schools of painting and sculpture, art critics, and, 
within recent times, anthropologists have been much concerned 
with the illusion of movement. Ruskin saw mountains as 
Nature in motion; plains as Nature at rest. Celebrated 
anthropologists, like Dr. A. C. Haddon have related movement 
to the evolution of primitive Art expression. 2 Savages are shown 
communicating with each other by little drawings consisting of 
lines abstracted from living insects, reptiles, fishes and so on. 
These are true pictographs. The Old Masters though they were 
not so intensely concerned with dynamics as the New Masters 
are, yet got movement into their pictures, and movement that 
was intentionally illusion of movement. When I was art critic 
for a London paper I spent much time studying the big European 
galleries, and somewhere I have got the record I kept of eyes 
that appear to follow you about, heads that appear to turn, and 
other apparent movements. 

Since Cezanne's time there have been, broadly speaking, 
three illusion of movement tendencies in painting, sculpture 

1 The Times Film Number, March 19, 1929, p. vi. 

2 See " Evolution in Art," A. C. Haddon. 



24 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

and draughtsmanship. The Father of Cubism set the fashion of 
abstracting a sort of activism from natural objects which has 
since his time become universal. Then came the militant 
Marinetti and his Italian Futurists who performed the conjuring 
trick of passing objects through the brain to obtain livingness. 
Actually they observed objects moving against each other, 
abstracted odds and ends of form, and composed a picture by 
sticking them together. So they sought to catch the movement 
on the hop. Then there were the German Expressionists who 
passed objects into the brain, which skinned them alive, till noth- 
ing was left but the bare line forming a dynamic design, and 
then ejected the result, like Jonah's whale. This, the Expres- 
sionists, maintained was " pure " movement or another example 
of movement on the hop. And then there were the Paris 
Rhythmists, John D. Fergusson, Estelle Rice & Co., shepherded 
by John Middleton Murry, the apostle of Bergson, and strongly 
influenced by the Russian Ballet rhythmists, just as the present- 
day Russian cinema rhythmists, Pudovkin and others, may be 
said to be influenced by the said Paris ones. According to their 
theory of movement, the thing to do is to take a root motive, 
say a curve, cut out harmonising curves and straights from 
surrounding objects, piece them together and so obtain a por- 
trait, or other subject, having unity and continuity which were 
so characteristic of the early Bakst ballets. 

Mainly by tricks latter-day painting was brought into the 
sphere of illusion of movement. Likewise the Cinema has 
been brought into a similar sphere by tricks. According to 
Dziga Vertov, the Russian director, someone has put a brain 
into the empty skull of the camera, and this accounts for the 
many strange things that have taken place of late. But camera 
tricks appeared early in the history of the Cinema. Almost 
as soon as it had begun to dazzle folk with its then miracles 
of movement in peep shows and nickel-odeons, the camera 
took to cutting capers, as though it were a cross between a 
spring-heel Jack and a conjuror. About 1900 Melie made a 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 25 

trick picture of a journey to the moon. Trick pictures 
were in vogue in 1905. In time the youthful trick 
photography grew up and was handed on to the Germans who 
since 1922 have demonstrated to their own satisfaction if to no 
one else's, that there are more things in the little box with an 
eye than are dreamed of in our aesthetic. Rooms appear con- 
structed at strange angles to one another to make interesting 
shots which ordinarily are not found in houses, broken floor and 
ceiling levels are seen making changes in light and shade. 
Ramps, instead of the stairways, give approach to upper floors. 1 
Tall windows, the ingenious use of spotlights and other devices, 
serve to produce an illusion of movement. 

Cinema movement has then become hopelessly confused with 
illusion of movement. Properly speaking illusion of movement 
does not come within the legitimate sphere of the Cinema. It 
is a small region bordering upon that sphere. Owing to mis- 
conception it has come to encroach upon and now threatens to 
dominate it. By this I mean that under the name of Art of the 
Cinema likeness, which is the object of the camera, is being 
superseded by unlikeness which, unless checked, will do as much 
harm to the Cinema as the Art of the Theatre has done to the 
Theatre by substituting stage aesthetic for a living form of 
drama, drama that is, that expresses the memory and aspiration 
of the people as a whole. 

What is the legitimate sphere of cinema movement? It 
is important to answer this question. Rightly conceived it 
covers four regions: — actuality; phantasy; fantasy; and a com- 
bination of actuality and fantasy. 

Of the first kind, which includes a multitude of pictures 
composed of objects bearing the likeness of actual ones, are 
such pictures as the early current events one-reel ers, and the 
two and three and five and six reelers that followed when 
the Cinema began to find its way about the world persuading 
the camera to snap-shot whatever came in its way. Then there 

1 See The Daily Express, September 6, 1928. 



26 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

were the pictures that D. W. Griffith made more intensely actual 
by using the close-up, the cut-back and the fade-out. Then 
came the long procession of all manner of pictures from Holly- 
wood with only three things to bind them together, actuality, 
fashion and the box office. Good or bad, costly or cheap, an 
enormous mass of pictures had that much in common. 

Of the second kind, which are far less numerous than 
the first, but equalling if not surpassing them in importance, 
are pictures such as come within — what shall I say ? the Freudian 
field. Pictures that interpret phantasy in the Freudian 
way. I refer to the sound part of Freudism, not quakery. 
This sound part which deserves the title of New Psychology 
and is extremely valuable, has together with other new depart- 
ments of science, like Sexology found its way into even com- 
mercial pictures unsuspected by the Film Kings, who of course 
are not expected to know anything about human scientific " mys- 
teries," and unsuspected also by that Over-lord of Film Kings, the 
Censor, whose chief fault is not that he is stupid, but that he 
is unfashionable. He is never in the fashion in the world of 
new and daring scientific knowledge with the result that such 
knowledge gets into the pictures where it spreadeagles its five 
fingers to its nose at him. 

I shall explain how the New Science outwits the Censor 
in another chapter. Here I shall indicate only the elements 
of the sound part of Freudism. They are Repression, Con- 
flict, the great factor in development. Regression to childhood. 
And Fixation, or complete stoppage. These are bound up with 
Civil Life, Sex, War and Fear. Civil Life and Fear are related 
to Conflict. Fear alone is the great factor of war. Fear 
created the British Navy. During the past fifteen years the 
whole of the civilised world has been paralysed with dreadful 
fear. Peace rests on confidence. Fear is a very active source 
of war. If we examine the pictures since say 1919, we shall 
find that character and conduct in them are mainly shaped by 
fear, especially portrayals of the Great War; Civil War, or war 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 27 

on society (crime), and various aspects of Sex, fear of separation, 
loss, etc. The system of fear is related to other emotional 
systems, anger, jealousy, love, etc., with complicated results. 1 

Regression is the path to phantasy. There is no doubt 
that a very large number of Cinema-goers regress to a primitive 
state, and to childhood in sight of their favourite " stars." 
They put themselves unconsciously into star parts. They 
are carried back to their earliest days to find their old mytho- 
logical heroes and heroines clothed in flesh and blood and no 
longer dreams but actualities representing desires projected into 
living symbols. 

Human beings have a habit of regressing as a means of 
progression. In the quaint words of a philosopher they like to 
look into, unto the onto for material for a fresh start whenever 
they come to a dead wall. When the famous Professor 
Patrick Geddes planned his new sociological world he said, 
" there shall be little chapels of meditation everywhere to which 
human beings may retire for rest and meditation and so escape 
for a time the hard realities of the material world and meditate 
upon the past, and so enter a world of phantasy to re-emerge 
with their ideas remodelled." Thus back, unconsciously it may 
be, to scratch, returning laden with the new phantasies or re- 
vitalised inner desires to be consciously projected in fresh 
symbols of a new form of human life. 

Sometimes the regression is a mass one. As soon as a 
nation comes to a full stop, realises that it has ceased to advance 
towards a more tolerable form of social life than the immediate 
one, a regressive process sets in. Take Soviet Russia. Before 
the Revolution, Russia had ceased to progress. The Revolution 
took place. An enormous mass of people was suddenly 
promised liberation and advance. It was encouraged to wish 
for these things. That was the first step. It could find noth- 
ing in the existing order of things to satisfy the wish. So came 

1 a The Foundations of Character," Alexander F. Shand, contains an 
analysis of the systems of the emotions. 



28 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

a return to more fundamental things of human life upon which 
to place a scientific reality. It was led to found a Theatre 
that was a part of itself; a living religion that pinned Faith 
to science and biological function instead of to dialectical 
theology and disputation. The Mass readjusted institutions to 
express its wishes and needs as in days of old; ceased to be 
separated from them. 

It created new symbols, that to some writers bear a strong 
resemblance to the old phantasies, 1 to determine this advanced 
form of social expression, just as folk in English-speaking 
countries symbolise cinema " stars " as living versions of old 
phantasies. To them the well-known figures of the child's 
Christmas story book are re-created by the Cinema in the like- 
ness of Pickford, Fairbanks, Chaplin, Clara Bow, Conrad 
Nagel, and the rest of the assortment of cinema folk who 
nowaday take the place of the old mythological folk. In 
attempting the amazing venture of suggesting a new point 
of view from which to solve the stupendous problem of build- 
ing a new world, the Mass has hit upon the plan of pouring 
new ideas into the old forms of phantasy, such as folk-lore, 
ceremonials, demonstrations, the theatricalisation of social life 
in which acting, dance, music and humour play prominent 
parts. Puppetry too enters largely into the new scheme of inter- 
pretation. The Mass has taken the eternal figures of the 
" Petrushka " puppet show or " Punch and Judy," overhauled 
them with its new experiences and exhalted them as present-day 
symbols of class-war. Phantasy is the leading feature of the 
Russian pictures far more than nations outside Russia suspect. 
It is the thing that justifies the belief that some day, not very 
far distant, Russian motion pictures will dominate the world, 
because the new social life in terms of phantasy is what human 
beings are asking for. 

In the expression of phantasy, then, there is no camera 

i In " The Mind and Face of Bolshevism " Fiilop-Miller takes 
the view that the New Russia is simply a regression to the old one, 
where it is fixed. He sees no regression to progress. 




u <u <r> u ^ 

3 £ 2 _£ £' 

£ .n ~ T3 > 

< <u c « c 

j2 • - cfl <U 

t; c c 






_c o _q <» u 

T3 •" is r o 
3* g 

c § 2 






G 






^c o 
§3 6 

rvO OS 



i 
Si "^ 






C 




■m >»• 



tl o 



O qj 
3 



c« w 



Stag 
>- G G 
>>3 



4) "O 

0-6 £ 



5 C-r o «j 



3 



C3 ca 






<u 



£6 



dh 






!J2 5' 



o o « >» 

J» 9) (S 

c 
•2 c « b 

£ ci^ a, $ 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 29 

illusion. Even mechanical puppets are modelled on living ones 
whose form, movements and dress they repeat. Illusion, if 
any, proceeds from the imagination of the spectators who con- 
sciously project ideas of fundamental things. The puppet in 
the " Great Gabbo " represented the personality of the ventrilo- 
quist projected into a mechanical object made in the likeness 
of a human being. Catherine Hessling's remarkable character 
study of La P'tite Lilie is marionette-like. 1 Her state of illu- 
sion in " The Little Match Girl " calls forth phantasy. 2 

Fantasy, which has for so long been accepted as an ex- 
pression of the whimsical state of mind, is, of course, within 
the legitimate sphere of the Cinema. On the screen it is seen 
at its gayest and best in a small line that assumes thousands of 
fantastic shapes that compose the Cartoon. In the Cartoon, 
which is one of the most popular and in some respects the best 
medium of cinema expression, the human atom and its belong- 
ings, undergo whimsical changes that cause a continuous stream 
of images to form in the mind, and that throw an abundance of 
rich crumbs to the imagination. But the Cartoon never departs 
from the actual. It consists of an elastic line in evolution. 
Shapes grow out of it with which we are familiar even though 
they are distorted and battered by a sort of recurrent earthquake. 

In other words, the Cartoon of the Mickey Mouse, the Krazy 
Kat, the Felix the Cat, the Inkwell, the Adventures of Sammy 
and Sausage, or the Oswald Sound Cartoon kind, is simply the 
caricaturist playing with a line that has the elasticity of gas. 
It shrinks and expands, collapses and recovers, behaves like a 
spring winding and unwinding, and at the same time assumes 
the shapes and characteristics of human beings, animals, insects, 
of animate things, and inanimate ones made animate. These 
extraordinary puppets of all sorts, that fall to pieces in heaps and 
reunite, and outdo even an india-rubber ball in diversity of 
shapes, that speed through space with a velocity that has no 

1 *' La P'tite Lilie," produced by Jean Renoir. 

2 Produced by Jean Renoir. Shown for the first time at the Avenue 
Pavilion, London, December, 1929. 

5 



30 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

parallel outside the Cinema, have a distinct sociological value. 
They exhibit man in society caught in a network of events under- 
going or trying to escape the consequences. They are in fact 
a comment, a very witty instructive and biting comment on the 
absurdities of Man and other living things seen in the light of 
materialism. At the same time they are human, tragic and comic. 

According to Mr. W. O. Brigstocke, of the Education 
Department of the Liverpool University, the Cartoon has a valu- 
able educational side owing to its elasticity. He has suggested 
that the moving line of a Felix Cartoon can serve to teach 
architecture. " Felix could illustrate in a film such difficult con- 
ceptions as that of thrust in architecture. Suppose the teacher 
turned two other Felixes into pillars at his side and then con- 
structed a Felix arch. It would be easy and amusing for him 
to show stresses and how they could be met. You would 
see the arch sagging at the knees or wherever it would sag. 
Gothic cathedrals which demonstrated in the sight of all men 
where they were weak and where they were strong, by bending, 
writhing, and even falling down promise infinite amusement. 
In the same way what could not be done with maps? Let 
Felix be taken up to a great height and let him behold all the 
kingdoms of the world with their pomps and vanities not to 
speak of their trade and transport; then drop him a given 
number of feet, or let him use up one of his nine lives and 
drop him all the way; in this manner it would be easy literally 
to see what scale means, both in space and times values. When 
one thinks of Felix and mathematics — cones sliced in lovely 
sections, curves developing in a panopoly of perpendiculars, and 
tangents to illustrate the secrets of growth and motion and form 
— why, on these lines we could have all the joys of Felix, Pro- 
fessor Einstein and the Zoo simultaneously." 1 Einstein in the 
Zoo? Some persons would say by all means. 

The Close Up is sometimes identified with illusion of move- 
ment. It certainly has the power of enlarging and intensifying, 

i The Observer, May 8, 1027. 



HISTORY OF THE MACHINE 31 

sometimes to a frightful degree. Who has not seen the skins of 
their he-man heroes suddenly appear like the bark of trees, and 
the ears of the handsome " star " take on the size and shape 
of a jug-handle. Not long ago one of the best-lookers, who I 
had always seen at a distance, unexpectedly closed-up and to my 
horror I saw his face was asymmetrical. I think the reason why 
D. W. Griffith, the producer, first used the close up when he 
made his first great picture, was to get isolation. He sought 
not only to isolate the face and thereby fix attention on an 
interpretative facial expression, but to isolate the body and its 
members so as to get motion, e-motion, and strength out of 
parts of the body that on the stage are allowed to slop about as 
they like, or in other words, have no interpretative value. To 
Griffith the close up was no doubt an instrument of analysis 
of emotional states by every physical means. Probably he was 
of the opinion that every physical atom could play a close up 
part if it could be isolated. At any rate, the close up was 
related to the beginning of cinema story telling. " America 
discovered the true art of telling a story in pictures, when the 
camera was allowed to take its part, selecting, isolating, pursu- 
ing. We see a woman on trial, suddenly we see only her 
hands, the veins knotted, the fingers clutching the dock. 
Objects become expressive; a revolver is a silent threat, a racing 
motor-car is a symbol of hope or aid." 1 

This isolating method of emphasising the plastic and cine- 
matographic value of the object has not escaped the attention of 
easel artists, and more than one have scribbled pages in its praise. 
A well-known cubist has stated his appreciation of the value 
of isolation as follows : " Every effort in the line of spectacle 
or moving-picture, should be concentrated on bringing out the 
values of the object — even at the expense of the subject and of 
every other so-called photographic element of interpretation, 
whatever it may be. All current cinema is romantic, literary, 
historical, expressionist, etc. Let us forget all this and consider, 
1 The Nation and Athenaeum, October 30, 1929. 



32 



THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



a pipe — a chair — a hand — a typewriter — a hat — a foot, etc. 
Let us consider these things for what they can contribute to the 
screen just as they are — in isolation — their value enhanced by 
every known means. . . . The technique emphasised is to 
isolate the object or the fragment of an object and to present 
it on the screen in close ups of the largest possible scale. 
Enormous enlargement of an object or a fragment gives it a 
personality it never had before 
and in this way it can become 
a vehicle of entirely new lyric 
and plastic power." The writer 
suggests that these fragments 
constitute a " whole new world 
of cinematographic methods," 
and he proceeds to suggest how 
their values can be obtained by 
light. " Light is everything." 1 
There is another kind of isola- 
tion set up by different mental 
processes. " If matter hears and 
speaks do not objects see? Do 
not lines adjust themselves to 
one another? . . . Similarly 
do not the vibrations of the 
cinema have speech, thought, 
will ? ... is not the imagina- 
tion to be permitted its faith in 
an arrangement of living lines 
which, going beyond pretext 
and scenery, play the leading 

r&le? " 2 

1 " A New Realism— The Object," 
F. L6ger. " The Little Review " 
(New York) Exhibition Number, 
1926. 

2 " The Little Review " (New 
York) Exhibition Number, 1926, p. 
73. 




1929. American Animated and Sound Cartoon. 
Mickey the Mouse, the famous animal satirist 
invented by Walt Disney. Mickey as Major 
Domo . Mickey is a wonderful representation of 
a legendary character enjoying immense popular- 
ity with the present-day public. Like his pre- 
decessors of the daily comic strip order, Krazy 
Kat, Felix the Cat, Mutt and Jeff, and new rivals, 
Flip the Frog, Toby the Pup, he is a symbol of 
American national humour to-day, combining 
the best features of the American Cartoon. By 
courtesy of Ideal Films, Ltd. 



CHAPTER III 

THE PERSONAL EQUATION 

A. How I Approached the Cinema 

" As the astronomer, in order to tell fairly the time kept by 
a star in heaven, must first record the time taken by his own 
thought, and thereby correct his reckoning; and as Descartes 
did not deem it beside the purpose to tell the Sorbonne that he 
was in his dressing-gown when he sat down to prove the exist- 
ence of God; so it will not be in vain for me to describe with 
what bias I approached my present task." 1 

If I say, with what bias produced by first-hand experience 
I approached my task, the rest of the above introductory para- 
graph will serve to introduce this chapter. I have approached 
this study of the Cinema in the spirit of one who sets out to 
inquire into the purpose of that which he examines according 
to the truth of the purpose which he himself possesses, and who 
has followed the method of accepting a theory that has grown 
out of first-hand knowledge and the collection of facts, and not 
the reverse one of conceiving a theory and then collecting the 
facts to support it, as Darwin did. 

Although I have long held the theory that grew out of 
experience that the theatre, rightly conceived, is an organic part 
of human beings and social life, it would not be true to say that 
I have long held a similar theory of the Cinema. The Cinema 
is a comparatively new and unexpected instrument of human 
expression which would not have come into existence without 
the evolution and help of mechanical science. I did not ap- 
proach it till some time after its birth, and when I did I was 

1 "The New Word," by Allen Upward. 

33 



34 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

not immediately aware of its relation to human beings as an 
instrument projected by human need. I ignored it as a toy 
Then I approached it in the spirit of the biblical student who 
places the Story of Creation in The Garden of Eden. I began 
to notice cinema conditions and possibilities. I heard men talk 
of it as a " wonder " machine, of its potential mighty future. I 
felt like a sleeper awakening and seeking to understand the 
human side of a new interpreter that has arrived while he slept. 
Then it seemed to me that the stranger was capable of exploring 
and expressing the human mind, and like Man in Genesis had 
two paths before it, one bad and one good, one downward 
and one upward, and it would follow the path dominated by 
the most powerful Will, as in the Bible, Man is shown following 
the path dominated by the Will of the Prince of Darkness. 

I became aware, then, that the Cinema had two paths 
before it, but, as in the Bible, though evil seems to be always 
uppermost, good may be still discerned, so by watching human 
beings going back to fundamental desires under the stress of 
mighty events like the Great War, and returning with sanctified 
wishes — eternal wishes — it might be possible to catch glimpses 
of the good path which for many centuries humanity has 
abandoned. Then by watching the reaction to such desires as 
were expressed unintentionally by the Cinema, glimpses of the 
true human purpose of the Cinema might be discerned. Before 
the war I was engaged in many activities, but only three 
brought me within sight of the Cinema. I was engaged in 
all kinds of theatrical work both before and behind the cur- 
tain, but chiefly as an actor. Then I semi-starved in a painter's 
studio at Chelsea. And then I spent some time as art and 
drama critic and reviewer on one of the most, if not the most, 
brilliant weekly of the period. In some such ways I learned 
much of the function the theatre must fulfil for man, of the 
metaphysics and philosophy of movement, and of the rapid 
progress of photography. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 35 

B. My ^Esthetic Approach 

At the same time I learned something of the thing we call 
Art and found that it was a thing underlying all forms of 
expression of Art, in all ages and in all lands, as though all 
men called artists, were working with one thing, but making 
it express their intentions in thousands of different ways. I 
stated this theory in the journal with which I was associated. 
Later a book was published in which the theory was applied to 
significant form. 1 The book said that all works of art, in the 
strict meaning of the term, have one thing in common. They 
have significant form. But form was not the common funda- 
mental thing I had in mind. To me the common thing was 
motion. At that time there were many sensible men and 
women who shared my opinion, and took part in my crusading 
work of separating Art from adjectives. The late Haldane 
Macfall was one of the most enthusiastic. The concept of Art 
as a creative movement outside human beings which acts upon 
them as a means of inspiration had the effect of setting me 
against the Cinema. 

Another thing that set me against the Cinema was photo- 
graphy. I had not been art critic long before I was drawn 
into the controversy between two parties, one that would have 
nothing to do with the Camera as art expression, and one that 
held the Camera as an instrument of Art. In those days 
aesthetic and intellectual circles were in a flutter over the true 
nature and achievement of the Little Black Box. Painters in 
particular were in a continual state of excitement over the 
Camera. One had only to mention the word to revive the 
flagging spirit of the knights of the brush who saw their occu- 
pation threatened, and their bread and butter snatched away by 
the prevailing over-appreciation of a mechanical toy. Such ap- 
preciation came from even men and women of parts, who 
rose to their full height to uphold the assumed superiority of 

" " Art," by Clive Bell. 



36 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the Camera. I remember how Mr. Bernard Shaw set all the 
studios in Chelsea on fire by expressing the controversial opinion 
that if Rembrandt had been alive then, he would have been a 
photographer not a portrait painter. To this challenge painters 
replied that photographs were merely mechanical copies of 
human beings and other animals whose natural charms so 
portrayed were such as to frighten birds and children to death. 
A painted portrait might be a miscarriage of the palette, but it 
was not a machine-made scarecrow. In this way painters sup- 
ported an old convention, which still lives, namely that 
" ordinary photography can never claim to rank among the 
arts, because although the operator may bring his taste to bear 
upon the arrangement of his subject, the actual work is done 
by the unselective camera." 1 As an amateur photographer I 
found that the Camera served a very useful purpose in record- 
ing evidence in support of my theory of Art as an external 
creative movement. Judging by the photographs of natural 
objects which I took during a period of seclusion on the South- 
East coast, there is a creative movement outside things (call it 
Will, if you like) which expresses itself in natural art forms. 
Living by the sea, I collected large quantities of pebbles, shells, 
etc., and I photographed sea-side trees, plants and other vegetable 
life, which revealed to me that the movement that sweeps over 
the sea and sets it carving the rocks and stones, is a natural force 
which leads Nature to anticipate the forms expressed and per- 
petuated by the hand of Man. But I was never led by this 
discovery to argue that because the Camera portrays the natural 
aesthetic of an object, it follows that the Camera produces art 
forms. Look at the Camera how you like, it must appear a 
mechanical thing capable only of producing mechanical results. 
What took my attention at that time was that the Camera is 
capable of revealing things not always apparent to the human 
eye. In that respect it scores over the human organ. But it 
does not create, and never can unless a machine can create. 

i The Observer, November 17, 1929. 




B 






i 

z 


lM 


c 








'1. 


c 




Si) 


n 








co 


o 


a) 


u 




r 


u 


03 


C3 


X 


-a 


+ J 


3 

CO 


ffi 


CU 


^^ 




J- 


ca 


f/j 


•M 

r/) 


C 

c 


co 

8J 


« 


+-> 






ca 




<S 


d 




U 


ca 




§ 


(U 


-a 


Ǥ 


Si 

c 




^ 


CU 

JZ 


o 






►c 


ft 


CO 


■^ 


CU 


^ 


A 


_c 


s 




o 


o 


c 




J-, 





>> 


cu 


j3 




-d 


o 


hi 


■4-> 


3 


2 


<+H 


T3 


o 





c 


ft 




3 




J 


a 


h 


G 


r3 


* 


1 — 


Ph 




V 




.d 


CO 


M 


co 


CU 


CO 


T) 


X 


u 






r/o GO 


CO 

ca 








< 


CU 








u 




«+H 


ft 


,_j 


o 


-C 


ca 


X 


CJ 


( 


cd 


,d 


ea 








C 
C 


CU 

c 
cu 
o 


C/j 




co 


T3 


ca 


CU 


0) 


c 

<u 


-j- 


C/2 


X 


O 




M 


"0 


n 


1 

o 


d 

3 


O 




IH 

M 






Cj> 




cu 


Ul 


X, 


C 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 37 

C. My Theatrical Approach 

My early association with the Theatre gave no better results. 
I learned from observation and experience gained in all its 
departments that the rightful function of the Theatre is social 
service, but misuse of the Theatre and avarice had given it a 
two-fold function — acquisitive gain and social service, two 
opposing functions. I saw that it was shaped to support money- 
makers and to serve the public. But the function of gain was 
operating so strongly that the function of service was nearly 
dead, and this was true not only of the commercial but of the 
uncommercial form of theatre. 

I had formed the opinion that though the Theatre and 
Cinema differed in method, fundamentally they had a common 
motive, namely, so to express human experience that human 
beings are initiated into its truth, and the spectator profits by 
the expression, morally, mentally, economically and socially. 
And I found that the Cinema had, at a very early period of its 
history, come to resemble the Theatre in as much as miscon- 
ception and mis-use had given it two functions. Almost at 
the beginning of its career it entered upon the downward path 
of acquisitive gain, to retake the upward path of social service 
at long intervals and unintentionally, as I shall show. 

D. My Sociological Approach 

At this point I might have given the Cinema up altogether 
as not worthy of serious consideration, had not another approach 
presented itself. This time it was the sociological one. In 
1906 the Sociological Society was founded mainly through that 
very great sociologist Professor Patrick Geddes. I became a 
member at the start. The circumstance proved to be of utmost 
importance to me, for it gave my mind a direction which it 
needed and has never lost, it made known to me the meaning 
and significance of the synoptic vision. It set me exploring 



38 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Man in society, and the human mind (or " soul " as it is some- 
times miscalled) as it is revealed by environment, and by re- 
action to and against human life. I did not do any exploring 
in an " armchair " but in the open amongst my fellow creatures. 
I became a social organiser, I organised civic surveys, I formed 
committees of Labour representatives and learned from them, 
and so I came to think in terms of human values, and to seek 
such values in human institutions, and sociological expression 
in art galleries, museums, and wherever it was likely to be found. 
I aspired to become the first sociological dramatic critic hoping 
thereby to give a sociological direction to dramatic criticism 
generally. I had grown weary of the Theatre as it then was a 
mixture of money-making and pseudo-scientific expression; on 
the one hand, unshamedly commercial, on the other, pretend- 
ing to be uncommercial by thrusting a mess of guesswork 
social science down the public throat while keeping an eye on 
the main chance. The Free Theatre movement had pardy 
caught it which meant that it was being maltreated by about 
fifty varieties of a vague something called Socialism. 

The effect of my first acquaintance with sociology was to 
set me reapproaching the Theatre from a fresh point of view. 
One day I spoke to Professor Geddes about contributing a 
regular article on the drama to the " Sociological Review." He 
liked the suggestion, and the outcome was that we discussed 
it with the late William Archer. This dramatic critic had not 
much sociology in his bones but he was a very great admirer 
of Professor Geddes (who is not?). He thought my proposal 
sound and saw no harm in its being tried. Accordingly I pre- 
pared some pages of criticism for the next issue of the " Review," 
but for a reason that I forget this initial interpretation of socio- 
logical expression in the Theatre never went in, and as shortly 
after I had sent it in matters took me out of London, I dropped 
the experiment so far as the " Sociological Review " was con- 
cerned. 

The next eighteen or twenty years saw me following the 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 39 

new sociological tendency and seeking its expression by the 
Theatre and its rival the Cinema. By doing so I was able to 
formulate my theory while collecting a great deal of evidence in 
support of it, also to trace the paths of the two powerful instru- 
ments of human expression leading up to the present world- 
wide critical situation, — a crisis that appears to threaten the life 
of one or both, — and to suggest a policy whereby the two may 
be united to fulfil a common function for man, the function of 
promoting social advance. 

By 19 10 my indifference to the Cinema had changed to a 
curiosity that subsequently led me to watch the activities and 
evolution of this new and wonderful mechanical toy very closely 
indeed. But the War and Revolution and terrible after events 
were needed to enable me to discover, compare and estimate its 
true and false values as an instrument of social service. These 
events gave me a rare opportunity of studying events and con- 
sequences such as peace time could never provide. Watching the 
reaction of human beings to this instrument under unusual 
conditions, led me gradually on the side of those who maintain 
that the Cinema will in time effect the most remarkable " revo- 
lution " ever known in the entertainment world. I however 
had my own idea as to how it would do so. I hoped it would 
be diverted from the wrong path which it was following to a 
path by means of which it should become an auxiliary of the 
Theatre; a means of strengthening the power of that great in- 
strument of expression while performing duties of its own. 

I have explained some of the reasons why the Cinema did 
not at first attract me. There are of course others. The chief 
ones are the lack of information of any kind likely to arouse 
interest in the Cinema. There was no publicity, no advertise- 
ment, no criticisms, no signs in the public prints that it existed. 
The character of the early crudities and the manner of exhibiting 
them were not alluring. Living photographs were first ex- 
hibited in this country in 1896. The circumstance set all sorts 
and conditions of men producing them. The type of picture 



4 o THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

produced is best described by Mr. Frank Mottershaw to whom 
belongs the distinction of having made a marvellous picture 
called " The Sweep " in 1899. It appears that the rate of pro- 
duction was determined by the fact that the producer " had only 
forty feet of film, and the whole thing had to be over in half 
a minute." Nowaday a producer thinks nothing of using a 
million or so feet of film in order to obtain a picture from 
6,000 to 8,000 feet in length. And the time taken to produce 
may be a year or it may be for ever. Producers who try to 
break the multi-millionaire corporation bank, as some of the 
German ones have been doing within recent years, may go 
rolling on for ever like Tennyson's " Brook." Mr. Mottershaw 
says further, " We took the picture in the street " (where by the 
way many pictures were taken because of the lack of proper 
artificial lighting facilities) " using the outside of a cottage at 
the bottom of Muswell Hill for the setting." From the dia- 
logue which was given to the unprofessional actors, we may 
judge the quality of the action which it produced. " Simple it 
was — such as, ' 'Ere where are you going? Look out, you 
clumsy fool.' ' Who's a clumsy fool ? . . . Take that.' This 
brought out the lady of the cottage exclaiming, ' Lor' ha' mercy, 
what has happened.' A real tit-bit of a shot was got of a real 
policeman who not knowing what was going on joined in the 
fray in deadly earnest." 1 

Other quotations from reliable sources may be given to 
describe the character of the early pictures. " The subjects 
were very short, sometimes only 40 or 50 feet in length, and were 
very crude both in production and photography. Even in 1909 
we find an imposing subject completed in a film of 450 feet in 
length, its presentation occupying only 7 or 8 minutes." 2 Again, 
" In 1900 I was travelling round the country with my primitive 
limelight outfit, visiting Mechanics' Institutes and Corn 
Exchanges." 3 If I remember rightly between 1900 and 1910 

1 Evening News, October 1, 1929. 

3 See Charles Hepworth in " The Cinema " (1917). 

3 Ibid. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 41 

there were definite stages in the development of the moving 
picture. 1. The miracle or novelty stage; — anything that 
moved, trams, trains, cabs, etc. 2. Short story adapted from 
thriller novel. 3. Stage shows with professional actors appearing 
under aliases; current events, such as the Derby, acrobatics, trick 
photography (probably the precursor of the German " stunt " 
photography), general increase of length of picture and greater 
variety of subject. 4. Improvement of the picture theatre owing 
to decrease of public interest in the moving picture itself. 

From 1896 to 1910 or thereabout pictures were shown in 
any hole and corner, shops, sheds, institutes, any place, no 
matter how insanitary and cold and damp, that could hold a 
small paying audience was hired for the purpose. In America pic- 
tures were shown in nickelodeons, picture parlours, road-side 
theatres, circuses, travelling booths. While the novelty of the 
first living photographs lasted the public were content to accept 
makeshift accommodation that an Hottentot would turn his 
back upon. Still offensive as many of these places were their 
condition was nothing compared with that of many of the 
cinemas in Europe between 1918 and 1925. 

It is worthy of note that the first cinema was opened in 
the Strand, London, in the nineteen-hundreds. Just before the 
war began the building of new and luxury cinemas was general 
all over Europe. The war had the effect of stopping all 
theatrical building operations in the warring countries (with 
the exception of a palatial Anglo-French theatre in Paris, Max 
Reinhardt's Theatre of Three Thousand in Berlin, and a 
small theatre de luxe in Cracow), and many imposing 
buildings were left half born till the war finished. Owing to 
this, during my after-war travels, I came across a number of 
palatial cinemas, two or three in Leningrad, for instance, which 
though mere skeletons were in use, waiting for money to clothe 
them with flesh. However, the decade of the super-cinema 
began in pre-war days, and to-day there are the Roxy and the 
Paramount in New York, and Mr. J. Schenck's promise of a 



42 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

London cinema costing ^1,500,000, to show that the movement 
towards the bigger and brighter cinema has not finished. 

The first stage of the building of the better and brighter 
cinema had the desired effect of attracting the public. At the 
same time it faced the exhibitors with a fresh problem. They 
had but few new home-made pictures to exhibit. The lure of 
the vulgar picture palace was sufficient to bring the public back, 
though the old crudities could not keep them there for ever. 
These pictures did not then suggest the true and real as they 
came to do when exhibited under different circumstances. By 
1907 the English public had tasted of more solid and, to it, 
palatable fare coming from abroad, and like Oliver Twist it 
held out its plate for more. Demand had compelled the English 
exhibitors to turn to foreign sources of supply. So came 
America's opportunity. English exhibitors imported American 
pictures which, at that time, were exceptionally good, and rapidly 
increasing in size and quality. In 1914, America gave to the 
world that big masterpiece, Griffith's " The Birth Of A Nation." 
About 1917, 90 p.c. of the pictures exhibited in this country 
were American. This percentage has been maintained unin- 
terruptedly almost till the present day. Certainly it lasted un- 
broken till 1925 inclusive. Since 1925 the world percentage 
has fallen. The character of the early pictures may be gauged 
by the examples contained in the Film Society's programmes. 
Though the Cinema was comparatively speaking still in a 
primitive state, by 191 1 I was taking an intense interest in its 
sociological possibilities. I had begun to inquire into the social 
value of the living picture, to ask myself whether it was an 
organic part of society, what benefit it was capable of conferring 
on human beings, whether it could do anything to solve the 
eternal problem of liberation with which the human mind is 
ever occupied. I asked myself why do people go to the Cinema? 
Is it to see a wish exhibited or fulfilled, or to spend an idle 
hour? And what is the driving force behind the Cinema that 
is responsible for its evolution or devolution? Is it the greed of 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 43 

gold, the craving for investment and dividends? Or is it a 
desire to benefit human beings? 

I got some of my answers before the war from a few 
pictures like John Lawson's thriller " Humanity," from the 
Americans that began to flow in, and those that had already 
been exhibited here, like the Keystones, Essanays, Biographs, the 
Vitagraphs, Mack Sennetts, Charles Chaplins, Mary Pickfords 
(then Gladys Smith), Zukor's first " feature " pictures. There 
was a Zukor picture called " Queen Elizabeth " in which Sarah 
Bernhardt appeared, and an F. Paul, in which Ellen Terry was 
featured. From such pictures I gained two impressions, the 
one was that the Cinema had started its career on a strictly 
financial basis. Embroidered on its banner of gold were the 
words, " I serve Mammon." The other impression was that 
the best comic shorts had something in them, put there un- 
intentionally and received unconsciously, which related itself to 
the psychological experience of the spectator. I suspected that 
it was one of the sociological values that I was looking for. In 
time and with proper opportunity my suspicion was confirmed. 
What I noticed was that the best of the comic actors in the 
early shorts were able to retain and transmit their human 
qualities in even their most extravagant exhibitions. 

E. My Wartime Experiences 

The War came. For fully fifteen years I had the finest 
opportunity, of which I took every advantage, to answer my 
questions about the bad and the good sides of the Cinema. As 
time passed I found these questions resolving themselves into 
three. What is the value of the Cinema to human beings at a 
period of great world-wide disaster? Why do people go to 
the Cinema when they are distracted and almost driven mad 
by terrible events? By what means can the Cinema provide 
consolation, impart strength and courage to carry on an unequal 
struggle, and this at a time when it is being intentionally put 



44 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to a low and degraded use? By this, I mean, by what means 
can the Cinema instruct human beings, conjure the demons out 
of them, and initiate them into the old and sustaining truths of 
their existence? I was thinking of the wartime demons, of 
fear, hate, misery, despair that eat into the vitals. Such demons 
invariably possess the victims of overwhelming disaster, and 
reason demands that they shall be driven out and destroyed (as 
undoubtedly they were by the wartime German theatre) so that 
folk may resume their normal shape. 

By way of a start I cut away, in imagination, the bag of 
gold with which the Cinema appeared to me to be heavily 
weighted, to try and discover the nature of the social service 
the Cinema could perform. Next I tested its human influence 
on myself and noted my reactions to and against it. 

I was much assisted in these preliminary tasks by the 
rapid technical development of the Cinema and by the intro- 
duction of psychological characters. To the genius of Griffith 
was due certain innovations which largely affected the results 
hitherto obtained by the use of the camera and the interpre- 
tation of the subject by actors. To him belongs the credit as 
already stated, of being the first to make use of the transforming 
" close up," " cut-back," " fade-out," and " dissolve," and to 
invest the actors and scene with " atmosphere." By such 
methods of pictorial emphasis one was able to study the re- 
actions of the actor, to note the most intimate expression of the 
feelings of pain, fear, grief, joy, anxiety, etc., raised to the highest 
interpretative power the influence of which no one could escape. 
Likewise, the evolution of lighting from the out-door, pre- 
Kleig lighting to the Kleig and post-Kleig studio lighting, also 
added significant black and white values, and gave emphasise 
to feelings expressed by movement, and by picking out details 
of characters. 

I remember that the first sign of a social purpose in the 
Cinema that came to me through such means, was intimacy. 
To those who are acquainted with the contemporary history of 




<u 


9) 


3 


cu 




A 





,G 















> — / 


5 

03 


X 


(4-1 




X. 


>> 

■H 







o 


s 






'■+- 
o 


>-» 




cu 




T3t3 


"5 




0) 


cu 


c 


CO 




e 


cu 

p 


03 ,G 

be O 




OT3 
co O 


s — -. 

CU 


SO 


ft 


_C 


,£ 


»h 


o\~o 


Th 




G 
cu 


H 


G 


<U 


73 







CS 


pq 


CU 




c 


=0 


ca 


| 


be 


c 




CO 


3 






CU 

bi 

0(J 


:0 






> — ' 




J 


4h 

O 


"? 


a 

p 


03 


C3 


G 


03 


T3 


O) <U c 

ficc c 

O <U 


lH 


ca 
.G 
cu 


0^3 




< 


cd 
O 


2 


O 

ft 


5 


V 


CO 



03 


G 

03 


'tf 


G 


v» 


J2 <4H 


O 







,G 


Ji 


X 




0) 


CO 




03 


-3 


lH 


cd 




J2 


u 


OJ 


az; 


G 


U 

O 


i 

P 


co 


>> 

,0. 


O 

CO 

a 


03 


•a 


Ih 


>> 




z 


cu 




<u 




*£ 


0) 


CO 


>> 


u 


In 


BI 


CO 


03 


u 


1) 


£ 


"7: 


% 


-C 


/ — ,, 







CO 


t+H 


cu 


# G 


a 


cu 





T3 


CO 


CU 


> 


0) 


_5 


)-l 

cu 


J= 





C 


73 


5 


1i 




, j 


^f 




■M 


JZ 


G 


to 


:0 -S 

£-G 


cu 

Q 


A 


=: 




CO 
CO 

<u 

C 


a 


s. 


** 


Ih 


cu 


■5 


^ 


c 

4-1 


_>■ 


cu 




O 


»-> 


'u 




is 


-a 
c 


03 
U 

pq 


~z 
u 

C3 

u 




+r 


3 


bo 


w 


c 
u 

73 


in 


15 


.c 




• —1 


.G 


w 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 45 

the Theatre, it must be well known that within recent years 
intimacy has been much sought after by the men of the Theatre. 
The aim has been to make the player and spectator, the stage 
and auditorium as much one as possible. So when I saw in- 
timacy flowing from the screen to the audience I felt sure that I 
was on the road to one satisfactory answer at least. This 
cinema intimacy produced a sort of depersonalisation that rid 
you of the distracting and unessential (or so it seemed to me) 
element in the picture, and caused you to exchange one mental 
state for another. An audience so influenced became the 
picture. It lost sight of the material objects put there by the 
producer and sat watching the realisation of its own desires and 
wishes. Some of us have noticed how the spectators of a big 
prize fight have through intense intimacy become the prize 
fighters themselves. Whenever I was in Paris at wartime I 
attended the Army Boxing contests at the Cirque d'Hiver, a 
place made memorable by the fight between the Italian Camera 
and the American Stribling. The immense arena was always 
packed, and excitement over the contests used to reach un- 
parallelled heights after the American " Dough-boys " came to 
Paris. No sooner did a contest begin than a remarkable change 
overcame the entire audience. It became one. I became one 
of the multitude; and we all became the two central figures so 
beautifully carved out by the great arc light, and moving with 
matchless logic, rhythm and symmetry. It was a strange ex- 
citement, a sort of exaltation that took possession of everyone. 
We were caught up and set in motion by a common rhythm. 
As stout blow followed stout blow, as dazed boxers staggered 
about the ring, so we swayed and staggered, exchanged blows, 
repeated, in imagination, all that was taking place before us. 
But what was more we audibly expressed those feelings which 
the boxers were disciplined not to express aloud. We shouted 
and raved, roared with joy, shrieked with dismay, and so on. 
We were in fact the boxers. We realised the dynamic painting 
of " The Boxers " by Dunoyer de Segonzac. 



46 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Those studies of the psychology of the prize fight strength- 
ened my opinion that the true form of the Theatre is that 
of a circus with the stage in the centre, and the action is so 
interpreted that the audience is completely mixed with it. Later 
in Russia I came across the circus idea applied to the Theatre 
by Eisenstein the well-known moving picture producer. He 
was, at that time, a theatrical producer occupying a prominent 
position at the Proletcult theatre. I think it was before he took 
seriously to picture production. 

The intimacy which I noticed in the Cinema was contained 
in pictures made primarily to entertain and to make money. 
This led me to discover that there is in nearly all, or perhaps 
I should say, in pictures that are not peurile, an unintentional 
influence, something beneath the surface not put there know- 
ingly by the producer, as there is something in fine paintings 
not put there intentionally by painters, which nevertheless 
exerts a powerful and enduring influence on the beholder. 
What this something was I found in the Westerns, the early 
shorts, the true American comedies, in the colossal results of the 
first era of the spectacle picture — an era that established a 
tradition which began with " The Birth Of A Nation," was 
continued by " Ben Hur," and recontinued by the mammoth 
" Noah's Ark " — and set a fashion in the " biggest ever " that 
has on the whole strewn the screen with immense biblical and 
historical subjects, Greek, Roman, Italian, French, German, — 
with national sagas, epics, documents, pages torn out of the 
epoch-making stories of nations, with German psychological, 
metaphysical and religious subjects like " Luther " and " Faust." 
I shall analyse it as I proceed. 

As time passed other values made themselves apparent and 
commended themselves to the thoughtful mind. " The Cinema 
takes people out of miserable surroundings," said one practical 
observer. " This is a form of amusement that reaches a poorer 
class more than any other, and it is therefore encumbent on 
those more favourably placed, while doing all possible to im- 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 47 

prove it, not to do anything that would rob shadowed lives o£ 
the little brightness that comes through it." 1 Again, " We must 
recognise that the picture house fulfils a needful and useful 
function amid social conditions which press very hard not only 
on the poor, but on the bulk of the working classes. So un- 
satisfactory is housing both in town and country, that there are 
few houses in which the leisure hours can be spent in quiet 
comfort and enjoyment. Not only are the slums and mean 
streets, physically injurious, but they are beset with moral perils; 
the sights seen and the sounds heard are potent factors in the 
deterioration of the morals and the manners of youth. For 
many months, owing to our climate, the parks and open spaces 
cannot supply a refuge from the house or the street. Apart 
from the picture house the only resort that is offered to the 
teeming Masses above the prohibited ages is the public-house 
with its constant temptation of strong drink and its no less 
polluted moral atmosphere." 2 This was spoken in 1916. 

It was not till I left England for France shortly after the 
War began and started, as circumstances would permit, those 
investigations on foreign soil which continued intermittently 
till 1927, not till I began to move about a vast area that in- 
cluded Western and Eastern Europe (and Russia) an area that 
swiftly reverted to barbarism, became most foul with disease, 
and death-ridden through War, Revolution and the consequent 
Chaos, that I came to realise the deep and far-reaching social 
influence of the Cinema on human beings. Not only did it 
serve to take them out of such economic misery as I have just 
described, but out of themselves, or rather the selves fashioned 
by overwhelming disaster. To me it was a magical influence, 
but I must repeat that I saw it was an unintentional one put 
in the pictures by wrong-headed men who were gold-seekers, not 
soul-deliverers. I found that this influence exerted itself 
through three channels already mentioned, actuality, phantasy, 

1 " The Cinema " (1917) xliv. 

2 Ibid. 



48 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

(or reversion) and fantasy (or whimsicality); that is, facts of real 
life that explained mental states; memory that restored wished- 
for states and reincarnated aspiration; and laughter that killed 
horrible monotony, and exalted. To-day there are the whimsical 
twistings and turnings of a line that express human desires in 
sociological shapes. I allude to those of the cartoon. Simply, 
these three elements assisted folk to read their desires or wishes 
into pictures, as some socialists read socialism into Dickens 
because they wish to see the socialist in him; other persons, 
metaphysical, spiritual, historical, rational and literary meanings 
into the Bible; others again, mystical, metaphysical, poetical, 
actual, and propagandist meanings into Shakespeare's plays. 

It was not hard for me to see that pictures with a particular 
bias, like Griffith's, with their varied theme of intolerance, 
were likely to be most popular at a period of abnormal recep- 
tivity. Devitalised and demoralised folk were bound to crowd 
the cinemas where the remarkable Cowboy and Company pic- 
tures — pictures full of sun and open-air romance and vitality — 
were waiting to hand it a never-failing tonic. 

What pleased me most was that, as I went, I found more 
and more to confirm my theory that there is a good and bad 
purpose in the Cinema. That it started with a good purpose 
which was quickly suppressed by the Mammonites, but has ever 
since been reappearing at the surface in response to the demand 
of human beings brought by disaster into sudden and close con- 
tact with the eternal truths that govern and move them. That 
is, coming to the surface at those moments when the things that 
claim attention under normal conditions are seen to be no longer 
of vital importance. 

I applied my theory to the French and English Cinema 
under the abnormal condition produced by war from 19 14 to 
1919. Immediately after the Peace Conference, which I attended 
as a representative of a London journal, provided with the neces- 
sary permits through Lord Riddell, I set out upon the first of my 
cross-European travels with the intention of devoting as much 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 49 

time as I could spare to the Cinema. I had not very much 
time for the purpose, except when I made some special journeys 
on behalf of Cinema technical journals. I was also engaged 
inquiring into the causes of the outbursts of the revolutionary 
spirit which some persons declared were intended to crush and 
destroy, still further, the cultural activities of the war-stricken 
folk, as expressed in art forms, the theatre, literature, and so on. 
My main purpose, that of making known the facts of European 
recovery, revival and reconstruction, naturally took me into the 
wide fields of intellectual achievement and human aspiration 
which I extended as much as possible by entering upon the then 
untrodden fields of post-war investigation. In other words, I 
went out of my way, and courted disaster, even death, to gather 
and verify facts related to my Theatre and Cinema theory. 

F. England and France, 1914-1919 

Of the Cinema of these two countries during the War I can 
say but little that I have not said in my book about the 
Theatre 1 . Indeed the story of the wartime French and Eng- 
lish Theatre is the story of the wartime Cinema, if technical 
differences are excepted. They had a common task, Govern- 
ment and military propaganda. They were in fact used to 
serve war aims. At the same time they were controlled, financi- 
ally, by combines or private persons who used them for profit. 
Of course, I except the cinemas of the different war fronts whose 
only contact with commercial interests was that set up by the 
supply of pictures and apparatus ordered by the Government 
from cinema production companies and apparatus manu- 
facturers. Apart from this, cinema and variety entertainments 
at the Front were organised by bodies of professionals and 
amateurs with the aim of keeping the minds of the soldiers off 
the war and Home, just as at Home one of the aims of the 
Cinema was to keep the minds of the public off the horrors at 

1 " The New Spirit in the European Theatre, 1914-25," by Huntly 
Carter. 



5 o THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the Front and on the re-assuring thought, " All's Well At The 
Front." Both in London and Paris, the business of the cinema 
shopkeepers, like that of the theatrical ones, was to give a new 
reading to the commercial function of the great instrument of 
interpretation which had fallen into their hands. The meaning 
of profit-making was changed to profiteering, and the selling of 
pictures became not so much a matter of providing entertain- 
ment for the multitude as of patriotism of a sort. 

The simple truth is that the civil population had to be kept 
in a state of mind favourable to the successful pursuit of the 
War. To attain this object the men in the cinema industry 
bought and resold to the public the successive moods bred by 
rapidly succeeding events. Having very few home-made pic- 
tures suitable for this purpose they imported American pictures 
in such quantities that, as I have said, by 1916, 90 p.c. of the 
pictures shown in this country came from Hollywood, or near 
it. Such pictures were shown to the public. Of course they 
were under strict military censorship which however did not 
rob the exhibitors of anything except the privilege of indulging 
in anti-war propaganda, or propaganda calculated to arouse 
public suspicion and unrest. They were in fact at liberty to 
exploit the lowest and most debased public moods, and they 
took advantage of this license to such an extent that early in 
19 1 7 an English Commission was appointed to inquire into the 
conditions and possibilities of the Cinema. 1 Some of the 
cinemas had reached such a stage of impurity that clean citizens 
would not touch them with a barge pole. At the back of this 
state of things was the public craving not so much for amuse- 
ment or diversion, as for enlightenment. 

But bad though the cinema conditions were, and un- 
doubtedly true the charges of vile misuse brought against the 
screen and the auditorium, it was not hard to see that a con- 
siderable section of the public sought in the pictures not the 

1 See " The Cinema. Its Conditions and Possibilities." Report 
published in 1917. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 51 

material properties of the objects exhibited but the ideas which 
the mind could read into them. The War made the conditions 
of social life abnormal, intolerable and monotonous. The 
cinema exhibitors made their profits by hashing-up each public 
mood evoked by such conditions. To-day, it was the craving 
for victory, to-morrow, for laughter, the next day, for retalia- 
tion. Before the War the exhibitors had learned the business 
of selling fashionable moods as they appeared, and especially 
debased ones. They became experts in gauging the box office 
value of such moods. It was no wonder then, that at wartime, 
there were rapid changes in the types of pictures exhibited — 
pictures that anticipated the demand of the public. These 
tradesmen saw that pictures which in pre-war days satisfied in- 
tellectual or emotional states, or the peacetime craving for 
salacious goods, no longer did so. They recognised that even 
the civilised section of the public required entertainment made 
from wartime recipes. And if the fare was hot and strong 
and basted all over with money it must also contain a little 
serious interest, not much perhaps, but enough for the 
memory or aspiration to work upon. Moreover there must be a 
flavouring of national needs, patriotism, strict saving, recruiting, 
the need of money, men and munitions. No doubt in preparing 
this mixture unintentional things got in which served to satisfy 
an unconscious wish, to stir up a recollection, to awaken hope, to 
renew courage, to strengthen determination, and so gave the 
queer dish a human value or two. 

It should not be overlooked that among so much rubbish 
that constituted wartime cinema entertainment there were a 
number of pictures which were calculated by reason of their 
character or unusual and ambitious subjects, to assist the sensible 
reading of the proper function of the Cinema. I allude to the 
big pre-1918 spectacles with their scenes in Egypt, or scenes 
taken from the scriptures, " The Eternal City " with its scenes 
laid in Rome, the Griffith great scale pictures, " The Birth Of 
A Nation," and " Intolerance," and subjects such as " Judith 



52 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Of Bethulia," " Cabiria," " Quo Vadis," " Les Miserables," the 
Fairbanks and Mix early Westerns and Broncho Bill pictures, 
and other Western and comic pictures in the true American 
tradition. Audiences doubtless found in these productions, re- 
ligious, legendary, and epic matter, and stalwart types that 
neutralised the crushing effect of the War by keeping up the 
spirit. But it must be admitted that some at least of the big 
spectacles contained scenes of unequalled debauchery which 
might reasonably have commended themselves to the attention 
of the Censor. The best side of the wartime reading of the 
function of the Cinema was more apparent at the front, especi- 
ally in the big out-of-the way camps in France, Egypt, Flanders 
and Mesopotamia. At such places the Cinema was introduced 
to administer partly to the avowed needs of the soldier, and 
partly to needs which the military and relief bodies presumed 
that he wanted satisfied. One of his conscious needs was to 
have his mind taken off the realities of the War. And one of 
his presumed needs was to have his mind relieved of all thoughts 
of Home. 

The Y.M.C.A. entered upon the task of providing cinema 
entertainment for soldiers, as a kind of ministering angel. It 
was actuated by secular and religious purposes. It established 
large wooden halls to accommodate 1,000 or more men, and 
it had travelling cinemas suitable for use in any wayside shelter. 
Its policy was to select pictures likely to keep the men's minds 
off Home, to keep the men themselves out of brothels and pubs, 
and to induce them to join in religious services that followed 
the pictures. It may be asked to what extent did the attempt 
to keep the men's minds off Home succeed ? It was fully recog- 
nised by the Government and the military chiefs that the very 
mention of the word Home or the sight of anything recalling 
Home was sufficient to set loose a flood of wishes and desires 
most likely to interfere very seriously indeed with the conduct 
of the War. It was all very well for the Government and the 
Y.M.C.A. to provide such subjects as the transport of troops, 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 53 

parades, ceremonies, travel, animal and insect life, life on the 
ocean, under the earth and above it, and on Sundays special 
attractions as a religious lure, like " Quo Vadis," ' The Sign 
Of The Cross," " The Eternal City," " Jane Shore," " In The 
Ranks," and on Mondays and during the week, a leaven of 
Charlie Chaplins, and the rest of the old-timer comedians. 
I was always certain that lurking at the back of their minds 
was the thought of " Blighty," and in the front, was the wish 
to be there taking shape through the agency of the material 
objects in the pictures. 

I think that the game of strengthening the memory of, 
and desire for " Blighty " by the material objects of the pictures 
was a favourite one with soldiers in the war zone. They 
strongly objected to subjects dealing with fighting or military 
action of any kind, and their laughter almost turned to tears 
whenever they saw a brass-hatted figure appear in the scene. 
On the other hand, they liked anything that took them out of 
the war zone and placed them amid peaceful scenes of recon- 
struction, and in touch with their kith and kin. This does not 
imply cowardice or shirking of stern duty. It may imply that 
war is necessary to sicken human beings of war. 

Ah illustration. I remember being at Arras just after the 
Germans had finished making a mess of the cathedral. In the 
market place there was a theatre which had seen better days, 
much better days, before the Germans had given it their blessing. 
The men were fitting it up as a temporary cinema. It was not 
an easy job. There was a great hole in the roof, the back of 
the stage had been blown away, and the sun had taken the 
centre of the stage as though in readiness to play the star part. 
The seating accommodation consisted of a number of crazy 
chairs tied together with string and a mound of debris the crest 
of which formed the seats of the mitey. Outside Jerry was 
dropping his eggs. But in spite of the mess and noise every- 
thing was going favourably. The old screen had been fixed 
and shaded, when suddenly from the operator's corner came 



54 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

an ear-splitting yell. Then followed a voice, " Blimey," it ex- 
claimed, " they've given us the wrong reel. It's all about brass 
hats, military mernoovres, and " — with a gasp — " military 
training. Look at this title ' Your King and Country needs 
you.' ' " Well, wot's the matter wiv it? " said someone. 
" Why," said operator scratching his head, " there's no 
' Blighty ' in it." 

On the whole, then, the subject of Home very largely 
determined the attitude of our soldiers towards entertainment. 
They tolerated enforced methods to banish it from their minds, 
but at the same time, they sought a subjective revelation of its 
ties. " Fighting and working was a duty to be done, and done 
well, but Home was the ever-present vision that ordered their 
lives." 1 And, as I have said, keeping their minds of? Home 
was a duty to be done by the Government, and done well. 
Toward the end of the war, when the final struggle began, it 
became the duty of the Government to keep the men in France. 
There was no leave beyond Paris where all entertainments in- 
cluding the pictures, were organised to stop the men asking to 
cross the Channel. 

Looking back at the path of the Cinema during the War I 
see three circumstances standing out. One is the positive 
descent of the Cinema. Another is, an advancing and receding 
human function; the third is the emergence of an aesthetic 
interest. 

G. The Art of the Cinema in Paris, 1916-1917 

I was in Paris when I first noticed the incipient growth of 
a movement towards what has since become known as the 
" Art of the Cinema." French intellectuals and aesthetes were 
very eager to evolve an aesthetic of the Cinema in spite of the 
obvious fact that the Cinema was, at bottom, a mechanical toy 
which could never be dissociated from mechanics. It did not 
matter to them what the war conditions were, that for instance 

1 " Told in the Huts " (1916). 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 55 

the Germans were but fifty miles off doing their best to per- 
suade Big Bertha to reduce Paris to dust, the advance-guard were 
up and doing with their constant cry " Now for the Cinema." 
Often I sat on one or other of the well-known cafe terraces, the 
Cafe Flore on the boulevard St.-Germain, the Cafe Lilas at 
the corner of the Boul' Mich', the little Cafe Lapin 1 'Agile on 
the heights of Montmartre, while bad Bertha dropped her eggs 
and spoilt the scenery, human as well as architectural. It was 
always in the company of enthusiasts, the pick of the young 
insurgents, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, etc. Among the 
painters were Picasso, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger, Irene Lagut, 
Othon Friez, Derain, Braque, Severini, Modigliani, Favory and 
Herbin. Among the sculptors were Archipenko, Chana Orloff . 
Among the poets were Jean Cocteau, Blaise Cendrars, Henri 
Hertz, Alexander Mercerau, Paul Derme, editor of " Nord-Sud," 
Max Jacob, Reverdy, and Albert Birot, editor of the provoca- 
tive " Sic." And till the time of his death after returning 
home from the war, there was Guillaume Apollinaire, the 
acknowledged leader of the Left to whom one invariably went 
for news of all the " revolutionary " movements. Finally, there 
were the musicians and composers, Erik Satie and I think, 
Darius Milhaud, and others. To all these fell the self-imposed 
task of taking the Cinema as an intellectual not emotional 
medium of art expression, of discussing its conditions and possi- 
bilities, writing articles in the little advance-guard sheets, of 
founding little propaganda journals, and of realising ideas in 
out-of-the-way places what time the Censor was not looking. 
These surely were the forerunners of the intellectuals and 
aesthetes who started work, in particular in Germany, after the 
war and achieved results which have given a good many honest 
persons pains in the stomach. One writer is of the opinion that 
" the present-day (1928) little cinemas of the advance-guard are 
the consequence of the meetings of the C.A.S.A., notably the 
first manifestation at the Salon d'Automne in 1921." 1 Myself, 

1 " Monde " (Paris), November 27, 1928. 



56 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

I think they belong to the Art of the Cinema movement of 
1916-7, and I do not think it would be hard to prove that the 
fine work of such present-day producers as Germaine Dulac, 
Marcel l'Herbier, Abel Gance, Rene Clair, Jacques Feyder and 
Renoir, the son of the celebrated painter, derives from the earlier 
source. 

Of course I do not wish to suggest that all the young war- 
time live wires were on the side of the Cinema. There were 
some who hated it, for example, Jacques Copeau. All he would 
say in favour of it was that it might help to improve the con- 
ditions of the Theatre. By a stroke of irony it has since almost 
improved his own little theatre of experiment out of existence. 
The Theatre Vieux Colombier is now a cinema, but one that 
has the honour of being on the Censor's list; while M. Copeau 
himself is glancing very keenly towards a directorship of one 
of the Paris subsidised theatres. 

H. After the War, 1919 — 1928 

Let me now come to my adventures after the War, and 
in countries where you would hardly think that the Cinema 
could possibly exist. It is reasonable to say that in these 
countries, with perhaps one exception, Czecho-Slovakia, civilisa- 
tion had receded so far into the background, I mean the sort 
of civilisation with which Western nations were acquainted 
before the War, that wherever one moved territories and 
peoples had dwindled into the shocking semblance of a state 
of barbarism. I passed through country after country ravaged 
by war and revolution, and internal strife of some sort or 
another. To me the world seemed to have reached its worst. 
Had the end come, or was the human race back to scratch pre- 
paring for a fresh start? Were human beings about to choose 
the peacefulest path they had ever trod, or were they going 
to continue in conflict till not a single passenger remained for 
Charon to ferry across the Styx. Rebirth or Extinction? that 
seemed to be the question. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 57 

Faced with these conditions I had little hope of finding 
the Cinema alive, and it seemed hardly worth while occupying 
my time seeking support for a theory in a field devoid of 
material. When, however, I came to look round I had to 
acknowledge there was no ground for my fear. There were 
cinemas by the score, by the hundreds, by the thousands, I was 
about to say by the million, but I must not forget that I am not 
writing about America. I recalled Tennyson's exhilarating 
" Charge of the Light Brigade " and shouted, " Cinemas to 
the right of me; cinemas to the left of me; cinemas in front of 
me; volleyed and thundered." Truly they did thunder for the 
generality of them were unknowingly administering to the 
vital necessities of communities. It was all very strange. If 
men had gone back to scratch, the Cinema had caught up to 
the Flood. 

After a cross-European journey or two I realised the wisdom 
of starting from London and Paris, thence passing through each 
European country in turn till I arrived in Russia, and then re- 
turning by the route I came. It was like taking a dredger to 
sample layer after layer of human misery till the lowest was 
reached, and the reverse. This gradual descent into the 
Devil's Kitchen or The Witches' Cauldron, as some picturesque 
minds have labelled Bolshevist Russia, and the ascent from it till 
the flaming lights and life of Paris were reached, enabled one 
to note with astonishment the social strata. Moreover, 
this cross-European journey enabled the traveller to note, with 
what astonishment may be imagined, the different readings of 
the function of the Cinema by different peoples under different 
political, economic and social conditions. In Russia, for in- 
stance, where economic conditions were at their worst, the 
population read into it a collectivist function. In countries 
bordering on Russia where distress was very marked people 
read into it their wish for and ideas of liberation. And so 
from country to country the Cinema picked up what pictures 
it could and served up by chance those which indicated clearly 



58 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the issue upon which public attention was fixed most intensely. 
In the more oppressed and distressed countries the general desire 
was for relief from misery, and the attainment of liberation. 
In released countries it was for security of gains, political and 
territorial. In prosperous countries the desire was for diversion 
and sensation. And so on. And the American Flood which 
had been increasing for ten years and had a reputation for 
quantity to sustain, enabled the different readings by different 
peoples to be made. America, in fact, provided accommodat- 
ing pictures into which you could read anything you like, except 
an intentional good purpose. 

I say " except an intentional " because there is a widespread 
belief that the Cinema does good not by stealth but openly. 
For instance, " Mr. Will Hays recently reported to the President 
of the United States, that the Film has carried the silent call 
of honesty, ambition, virtue, patriotism, hope, love of country 
and of home to audiences speaking fifty different languages." 1 
Mr. Will Hays is a big man in the American Film Industry, 
who receives a five-figure salary (a sure sign of size). He is said to 
know what he is talking about. It is doubtful, however, 
whether he was talking fact or fancy. Still, oddly enough these 
were some of the very values which the worst sufferers from 
the War read into the ancient and much abused pictures that 
came their way. The explanation is my oft-repeated one that 
in all pictures there is an element put there by guesswork and 
not by business or scientific (that is, technical) perception. 
Whether or no Mr. Hays is aware of this, he very discreetly does 
not say. Some day the nature of this element will, like the 
nature of the influenza germ, be discovered. But that time will 
not arrive till picture production has passed out of the sphere of 
guesswork into that of applied Science, out of the hands of the 
odds and ends of human beings who drift into studios and 
obtain work on the strength of their knowing little or nothing 

i The Observer, November 11, 1928. See also The Daily Express, 
July 25, 1927. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 59 

about human values, into those of groups of experts possessing 
an ample knowledge of the natural, vital and human sciences. 

Leaving Russia, Germany and England to be dealt with in 
separate chapters, I shall, in this place, make an outline sketch 
of the story of the other countries I visited and my observation 
of the reactions of different peoples in different countries to 
the Cinema from 19 19 to 1925 when the first of the recent 
transitional phases of the Cinema began. By some it is stated 
that a new period of the Cinema set in during 1924. The big 
American Production companies were beginning to grow un- 
easy about the attitude of the public towards the sameness of the 
pictures, and seeking to prevent a flight from the Cinema. They 
were repeating history by falling back upon the expedient em- 
ployed by the exhibitors just before the War. They were in fact 
building vast cinemas all over America equipped to give the 
public as much luxury in the Star Spangled Manner for one and 
threepence as the said public might reasonably expect to get else- 
where for a guinea. With its money well invested in marble 
palaces and plush seats that invited slumber, no well disposed 
audience would continue to quarrel with the sameness of the 
pictures, or to think about them at all. The plot was no doubt 
a deep one. That it did not succeed, however, is made plain 
by the story of the Talkie as related elsewhere. 

It may not be out of place to begin my sketch by describing 
two or three of the various journalistic adventures from which I 
emerged unscathed. The first in importance and the one that 
has left the deepest impression on me was the search for evi- 
dence in Russia during the Great Black Famine (one of Russia's 
periodical famines). At the time, I was eager to see for myself 
the actual ravages of this awful scourge and national disaster. 
The Nansen Mission very considerately provided me with a pass- 
port for the purpose. It was a passport which was issued in 
Moscow to representative persons who could be trusted to make 
observations of actual events without malice or bias. I found 
it an exceedingly useful document for it enabled me to travel 



60 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

free and to go anywhere I liked unquestioned, unmolested, 
and unsearched. Anyone who knows what it meant to be 
overhauled in the early days of the revolutionary struggle will 
understand the privileges conferred by a free pass. Personally, 
I took no undue advantage of such privileges. I was content 
to use my eyes and knowledge and judgment in a reasonable 
manner, and so I learned what a century spent in libraries could 
not teach me. Searching for Theatre and Cinema material in 
support of my theory in this famine-stricken area was simply 
risking death by cholera, typhus and malaria. Indeed two 
members of the Quakers' Relief Organisation died in a district 
that I chanced to be in although well protected by medical and 
scientific preventives. 

When I come to think of it, in those days I must have 
appeared an odd creature, though I did not call myself odd, 
to be moving about looking for cinemas and reactions in districts 
where two-thirds of the houses and cottages were deserted and 
mostly in ruins. Dwellings from which the skins on the doors, 
and the thatched roofs had been torn by the half-maddened 
starving inhabitants who ate anything no matter how repulsive 
and unfit it was. 

But the worst of the bad business was that the inhabitants 
ate each other, as some of the following facts which I collected 
first-hand prove. The most startling of the facts and photo- 
graphs of the outburst of cannibalism were published in " The 
Black Year ' n Moscow, others in the London " Medical Press " 
as matters of medical and scientific interest. 

Remember these facts were gathered in bad districts where I 
found that theatres and cinemas were still active although the 
inhabitants were forbidden to congregate for any purpose what- 
ever, and public institutions both large and small were held to 
be death traps. In the vast famine area 6,000,000 died of 
starvation. You saw girls lying in streets half-eaten by dogs. 

1 " The Black Year " (Moscow) was engaged in making a national 
appeal for co-operation in fighting the Famine. 




. «■ CO U<w d> 

? .-2 Sis 

^ S 8 ! 

"5 d u a « 

;8 .-So 

STJ d o^ 

Igggg 

<u d rt c3 

— „, <A> .?-> U 

••£ £ 3J 

^^j £ ca > 

■ «* -55 ^ 

S*S g £< 

CVd <u 7j 

w d o -m <u 
co id co cy .2 

« O C y 

JS f at u, 

y s « y 

I 3 o> g 

•Sx a) £ s 

vm ~S3 ,d co O 

o tj -h -d . y 

5:? « -to 
< O M co • r< 

. c3 cy £ 

^J Z « d 
P— . d 



^3 « 2 o w 

+J C/3 d " 

< os _, ~.d ^ 



>^> ct> 



d 13 
O 




& "d fS 

w g"H.ssl 

d d -m o o 
O o « -d i-r< 

co ta c5 ax 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 61 

You discovered peasants eating each other, parents their children, 
husbands their wives, wives their husbands. Bodies and limbs 
were exposed in the open market for sale. You saw heaps of 
human and animal bones everywhere. You saw little children 
eating each other's fingers, eating roots and excrement. In 
Buzuluk, a town in the worst part of the famine area, you saw 
great open pits down by the river, some containing corpses, or 
bones, others waiting for their ghastly human content. 

It was in Buzuluk, a veritable deserted town, where I was 
the guest of the Quakers for a short time, that I came across 
a little wooden theatre which despite government orders was 
filled each night with an eager audience, composed of all the 
folk left in the town, that sat from about eight in the evening 
till one and two o'clock the next morning deriving sustenance 
from little Russian comedies (I think Gogols and Little Chekovs), 
lapping up laughter as though it were the finest draught of 
wine. 

My patience was rewarded by the discovery in two or three 
other small towns of cinemas handing out the life stream, as 
I may call it, to remnants of their populations who in spite of 
terrible privations still clung to their homes. 

Sometimes I tried to imagine our magnificent Grub Street 
reporters, book and pencil in hand jotting down news stories 
for their favourite journals. But I could not imagine it. Their 
business was not to get closer to actual events than a palatial 
hotel or the inside of a luxury Pullman would allow. 

When all is said they would not have found much to jot 
down, not much in their line I mean. What I found was a 
steaming interior filled with emaciated human beings exalted, 
or taken out of themselves, by a Western or a comic short, by 
the magnificent exploits of one of the physically fit and 
dazzlingly daring heroes of the cowboy picture, or the laughter- 
making pantomime of Charlie Chaplin, or the laughter rousing 
facial contortions of " Fatty " or John Bunny. Two hours ac- 
quaintance with the physical shorthand of these magicians of 



62 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the screen was sufficient to put the gloomiest member of the 
audience in the frame of mind to say, " Well, I don't care." 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the pantomime and 
facial contortions of the early comic one and two reelers flung 
a huge wave of laughter over the dwellers in the down and 
out corners of Europe; while the Westerns gave them a general 
bucking-up, that have never been equalled in the whole history 
of entertainment. 

To the hard-boiled hater of the American invader there 
is nothing to justify the distribution of his goods in all parts 
of the earth. No matter how you take them, they are bad 
and they are not worth importing at any price. To the man 
who does not disdain to look for the truth, the invading Film 
Kings are symptomatic of changes and tendencies and for that 
reason their goods are worth examination and for the sake of 
the good that may be in them. He will tell you that probably 
there is an excellent reason why the Westerns are widely popular 
in spite of the scurrilous abuse that has been aimed at even 
the best. 

I. I Face Death in the Cinema 

There is an excellent reason, and I will break my story to 
explain it. Not long ago I read in an important French Left 
Weekly Journal a sound article on the American cinema by an 
American writer. 1 He maintained that the true American 
Cinema subjects fall into two classes, the Western thrillers and 
the short comedies. I should like to say that there are three 
classes, the third being the Chicago Crime and Jazz civilisation 
which has been getting increasingly into the American pictures 
since 1925. Leaving the question of the true American 
comedies let me consider the claim to widespread attention by 
the great national classic the Western epic. This Hollywood 
speciality is a portrayal of the many and, in some respects, won- 

1 " Monde," Paris. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 63 

derful phases of life in the great changing West. Just as some 
of the finest of the Russian plays, Chekov's for instance, are 
psychological interpretations of changing Russian society. 

I think it is understood by sensible persons that the 
Westerns, in particular the early ones of G. M. Anderson and 
Douglas Fairbanks (both of the Broncho Billy type), Tom Mix 
(beginning in 19 14), William Hart, Fred Thomson and their 
successors, Buddy Roosvelt, Wally Wales, Buffalo Bill Junior, 
down to the recent ones of, say, Tom Mix in the William Fox 
gallery, and of the newcomer, the very attractive Ken Maynard 
in the Universal gallery, stand for the genius, the immense skill, 
the fine physical attributes conferred by a vast natural territory 
that is rapidly changing under the encroachments of financial 
enterprise, of mechanical, industrial and business science. There 
are travellers who say that Western America is changing through 
a vast system of grabbing and gambling. Perhaps they are 
right. Certainly the Western pictures have rendered serious 
folk the service of showing them that extermination of races, 
and commercial exploitation and skinning have been going on 
for a considerable time with the result that the romantic and 
picturesque elements of life in the Far West have almost ceased 
to exist. In turn the Indians, the Mexicans, the Spaniards and 
the Cowboys have been dispossessed of their natural heritage, 
the land they formerly owned. 

No doubt the gentlemen who are so busy nowaday pushing 
railways across sandy wastes not belonging to them will say, 
' Well, what about it ! We stand for advance not decay. If 
we can plant potatoes in these sands it will be much better for 
the human race than leaving them in the undisputed possession 
of cut-throats whose chief occupation is play-acting for the 
benefit of American Cinema Syndicates." The logic of such an 
argument is doubtless flawless. It does not matter to me 
whether anyone is seriously considering a proposal for laying a 
network of underground railways under the Sahara. All I am 
concerned with is the magnificent historical and sociological 



64 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

material offered to the Cinema by this amazing change in all 
its aspects. Rightly it is true cinema material. To put the 
Far West on the screen as it deserves to be put would be a 
marvellous achievement. I shall not say whether in my opinion 
it has been so put. All I shall say is that it is a subject which, 
no matter how badly it is portrayed, shall still retain its human 
appeal. And this fact accounts for its wide and enduring 
popularity. In short the best Westerns are excellent examples of 
sociological expression by the Cinema. I will explain why when 
I come to the chapter on sociology. 

My second story is not so grim as the first. It has no louse- 
suits, no barrels of disinfectant and antiseptics, no iodine squirts 
to give you a complexion like that of an Indian on the war- 
path. Still, it is rooted in all the things that stank to Heaven 
which seemed to have gathered together on Eastern European 
territory for the benefit of, and to welcome those who had occa- 
sion to travel thereabout. It takes me back to the time when the 
train service between Moscow and Warsaw had just been re- 
sumed on the instalment plan. To get from one terminus to 
the other you had to make so many changes that you wondered 
whether you were really on the earth or off it. Indeed what 
struck you most about this journey was the chaos of connections. 
On the sixth class (or something near it) I picked up Mr. John 
Gorvin, the excellent organising secretary of the Nansen Mission 
at Moscow. He was travelling my way to Warsaw, thence to 
Berlin. To judge by the number of big leather bags in his 
possession you might have thought he was bound for New 
York. What they contained I never ceased to guess, and as no 
official dare open them I gathered a skull-full of curiosity. 
They were a nuisance not only because our compartment was 
made for two persons only, but because every time the engine 
stopped for lack of fuel, or the train got tired and rested an 
hour or two on an off-line to allow the passengers to alight 
and weave wreaths of prairie grass for its funeral, they re- 
quired to be moved on. There were a good many of these 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 65 

harvesting intervals, a good many occasions when we had to 
change, a good many occasions when we lost connections. And 
each time Gorvin and I lifted our tired selves out of and in 
the animated cattle boxes followed by the faithful family of bags. 

After two days, or it may have been a little longer, for there 
was no hurry, we struck a conveyance that in addition to the 
usual cattle-trucks had one half of a second-class compartment. 
We collared it and by arranging the bags to look like a 
travelling exhibition we were able to keep at bay the numerous 
army officers who applied for admission on the ground that the 
best sites in the Moscow to Warsaw express were especially 
reserved for them. But as the bags suggested that our ration of 
compartment was taken by members of their own class, they 
reluctantly found a stable elsewhere. So we travelled in peace if 
I except the interruptions caused by two men armed with 
revolvers who continually dashed into the compartment, one on 
either side, to examine passports and to look under the seats for 
machine-guns. Fortunately, as I have said, they dare not touch 
the baggage. 

In due course the worst portion of the journey came to 
an end, and suddenly. The overworked engine broke down 
and we found ourselves stranded at an off-the-map paradise 
near the Polish frontier. It consisted of a sandy waste, a few 
huts thrown down higgledy-piggledy after the manner of the 
houses in districts in North Wales. An old railway wagon 
which accommodated the station-master and his dog, a rudi- 
mentary platform and ticket office, and some hoarding com- 
pleted the scenery. I do not know what became of the bag 
family, but Gorvin gave himself in charge of the station-master 
and I was left to find my own billet. 

I will draw the curtain upon what I did find. I remem- 
ber spending half the night shooting insects. Early the next 
morning I went nosing about partly to find food if there was 
any (for though I always carried an army outfit containing 
everything necessary for an emergency at any place, I could not 



66 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

carry food that went bad on the least provocation. I also 
wished to see what the surroundings consisted of. I did not 
expect to find an electric lighting plant nor a tuppeny tube, nor 
an American hotel containing 6,000 rooms. I was not dis- 
appointed. What I did find, however, pleased me very much. 
There, in this village, and taking the centre of the stage, as the 
cathedral took it in the Middle Age, was a cinema. It was a 
wooden building, round like the Albert Hall, but not quite so 
ugly, and plastered all over with big posters, the majority of 
which advertised American and English attractions set forth in 
the English language they employ at Wardour Street and Holly- 
wood. The first picture that caught my eye was of a cowboy 
wearing a soft hat with an unlimited brim. I think the subject 
was " The Border Legion," an early Western thriller. Then 
came a Charlie Chaplin stopping a custard with his nose, some- 
where about 1909 or 1910. A French poster of a picture por- 
traying the Western European struggle for property theme also 
caught my attention. I wanted to see that picture in order 
to compare the Western European treatment of the property 
theme with the Russian which I had been studying three days 
earlier. Alas ! there was no performance till the evening, and 
as another engine had been rounded up and Gorvin had gathered 
together his roving family, and all was ready for a start at 
seven provided the engine behaved itself, the only hint I could 
gather of the reaction of the villagers to the cinema fare was 
from the size of the queue forming round the building, and 
the eager expression on everyone's face. 

The third story is a much more serious one than the 
second. I was nearly bayoneted and shot and otherwise 
threatened by death. Still, I did not let such incidents damp 
my ardour. On this occasion I was travelling from Moscow to 
Vienna by a long, roundabout and dangerous route. I had 
decided to take this route because it promised unusual informa- 
tion. At Reval I found two things to note. One was a meet- 
ing with Lenin who complained of the inadequacy and ineffi- 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 6y 

ciency of the European Labour Press in furthering his revolu- 
tionary aim. He spoke in particular of The Daily Herald, 
(then under the editorship of George Lansbury, who had given 
me a note to hand to Lenin), and shrugged his shoulders when 
I asked him whether it agreed with his idea of a fighting paper. 
The second incident that impressed me was a remarkable demon- 
stration of friendship for the English by the Baltic States. I 
had to leave Reval by a train which carried a heavy cargo of 
refugees. A great number of these came from Russia and were 
making for Poland by different routes. When I arrived at 
the station I found a dense crowd camped outside and inside, 
the whole apparently set on going by the only train that was 
likely to leave that day. I had ten minutes in which to get 
my ticket and to find a seat in the train. At first I was in 
despair. But I happened to be in the company of a very 
amiable Reval journalist. He noted the situation and then 
turning to me said, " follow me." Pressing forward into the 
crowd he whispered a single word, " English." The effect was 
like magic. The crowd parted like the Red Sea in the Bible. 
People not only gave way to let us pass but they actually pushed 
us forward. Arrived near the booking office word was passed 
to those rubbing hardest against it and in a second or two, or 
so it seemed, a ticket flew at me leaving nothing more for me 
to do but to be guided by friendly hands to a compartment 
where by the courtesy of an officer room was made for me. 
A minute or two later the train carved its way through a throng 
that seemed denser than ever. And the secret of my success? 
Simply that English ships had lately been assisting the Baltic 
States in their fight for independence. 

This kind of goodwill was often shown to me especially at 
times when I happened to be the only Englishman on board a 
crowded ship or train. There were times, however, when the 
officials that I met behaved like wild beasts and were disposed 
to do me utmost harm being restrained alone by the papers I 
carried. 



68 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

A good deal of this wild beast behaviour was handed out 
to me on the present journey. I will not stop to describe 
it. I passed through civilisation shattered and stinking. I 
recall those everlasting breaks in the journey, changes, con- 
nections, the truly horrible carriages not fit for skunks to travel 
in, the fragments of stations where platforms were completely 
covered with the excrement flowing from stopped-up or smashed- 
up lavatories, and overspreading the line for long distances, 
the cattle-trucks filled with cholera and typhus stricken refugees 
who died by the score each day, and whose bodies were thrown 
out at every halt, the mad baggage examinations at frequent 
intervals at wayside halts and in the pouring rain. I recall the 
fanatical examiners who threatened to shoot me the moment 
they found anything of a Russian character among my belong- 
ings, and the sickening hours of waiting while the whole train 
load of human beings was vaccinated, an ordeal which for- 
tunately I was spared owing to the precaution I had taken to 
provide myself with a medical exemption form. 

Life drifted on, shocking circumstances throwing up shoals 
of shadowy creatures with weary and battered souls and shat- 
tered nerves and bodies sick unto death. At last there came a 
day when we were told that we could go no farther by the 
train we were travelling in. We must alight and catch a con- 
nection many miles away. Those who liked could go by spring- 
less carts that were fifty times worse than the motor transports 
that used to carry you across shell-shocked roads in France 
and Flanders. They were so bad that if you rode in them 
you ran the risk of swallowing your false teeth. Sick of being 
cramped up in odd corners of compartments filled with vomiting 
and dying folk I told the station-master that I should walk 
and get some fresh air. He warned me of the danger. There 
were two frontiers to cross guarded by savages. He rubbed this 
well in, but I did not care. It was a choice between being jolted 
to death or run through with a bayonet. On the whole, it 
seemed the bayonet would be a luxury compared to the cart. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 69 

The station-master was right. I was lucky enough to miss 
the first consignment of savages by going a little out of the way. 
But I ran full tilt into the second lot. The boundary ran across 
the middle of a little street of cottages thus cutting the street in 
half. There were two effectively camouflaged sentry boxes with 
nothing unusual to attract attention to them except a sort of 
barber's pole that hung athwart the road. It was a strange 
' arrangement. The woman who lived on the east side of the 
pole and brought home the laundry to the folk who lived on 
the west side, was compelled to pass through the sentry boxes 
and have her passport visaed every time she made the crossing. 

The upshot of my attempt to take this divided way was 
that the defenders of the country I was in, or to be precise, the 
undersized military roughs, put me under arrest. They were 
quite unable to read my papers or to speak any language but 
one that sounded like an American talkie at its worst. Moreover 
an intelligent officer was not expected from headquarters for a 
day or two. I was placed in the small guardroom where I was 
free to sit or sprawl on a hard bench till my deliverer arrived. 
Two days of this- sort of thing made me wish for a change. 
I tried to ask one of the guards if there were any attractions 
besides himself and his gallant fellow-guardsman. In a moment 
of desperation I murmured the word " kino." He had a spasm 
of intelligence. His eyes lit up at the sound of a universal word 
which was familiar even to him. " Kino " he said, and pointed 
to me. I nodded vigorously. He turned and consulted the 
other soldier and shortly after I and the two guards, who were 
fully armed, set out for an unknown destination. Thin rain was 
falling and forming small lakes amid the dreary cobbles. A 
mile or so of darkness hung with the sickly yellow lights of 
dim dwellings and shops, and then a gloomy building with men 
and women herded outside. My guards had brought me to the 
very place I wanted to visit, and doubtless which they wanted 
to visit also. It was the village cinema. 

A pause before the door opened enabled me to study the 



70 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

film fans herded outside in the drizzling rain. Sometime 
later, I came across some verses by F. C. Davis. They were 
called " Cinema Queue " and, oddly enough, they nicely des- 
cribed what I saw. 
They ran: 

" Herded I saw them stand 
Like tired oxen, 
With filmed eyes, 
And spattered legs 
And drooping mouths. 
Waiting, waiting, 
In the thin rain 
Which fell aslant 
Their bowed heads, 
Their curved shoulders. 

Welled in my heart 

A poignant pity 

That they should stand 

So patient, 

So tired, 

So thin, 

So poor, 

So dejected." 1 

Herded we went in, passed from semi-darkness without 
to semi-darkness within, from sickly yellow lights to dim blood- 
red ones. At one end was a worn-out silver screen. At the 
other a projector balanced on a pile of bricks. Between were 
old benches and chairs tied together for security, on which we 
herded. The smell of hot flesh and unclean bodies sickened 
one. A murmur arose from the audience, eyes brightened, 
depression fled. The picture came. I forget its title. It was 

1 From " The Bermondsey Book." 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 71 

one of a series of the marvellous exploits of a hooded man, whose 
valour, courage, daring and chivalry roused the audience to an 
intense pitch of excitement. 

All the time I seemed to live surrounded by armed men 
whose bayonets pressed against me, might go through me at 
any moment should the picture cause the soldiers to start with 
emotion. 

But nothing happened except the effect on the audience. 
It herded in like stagnant sewage; it flowed out like a revitalised 
stream. And my rough guards. As we splashed homeward 
through the little lakes I noticed that they went not behind but 
before me. Something had humanised them, had made them 
no longer guards, but guides. An officer came the next morning, 
and I resumed my journey. There was another stoppage near 
Warsaw. I nosed out another little cinema of the pattern with 
which I was becoming familiar. I had no time to see pictures, 
but I saw the interior containing old apparatus, and wreckage, 
called furniture. The mechanical equipment consisted of an 
old projector mounted on bricks, a worn-out light-producing 
apparatus, a screen that would have gone to the wash had it 
known its way. The proprietor told me he had some pictures, 
some rare old-timers, which had been stored away during the 
war and were in mint state. 

Whenever I heard a statement of that kind I used to feel 
sorry that I was not in a position to collect some of the oddities 
and rarities I came across. My path was strewn with them. 
Europe was a veritable Tom Tiddler's ground for the Junk 
Hunter who sells his goods by salting museums with them. 
There was only one rarity I did not want. He was the invari- 
able operator who was more capable of grinding a mangle than 
working a projector, and who needed several sleeps to help him 
through with a night's programme. 

The visit to this out-of-the-way cinema was interesting, but 
it nearly cost me my life, for as I returned to the train I was 
fired at for crossing the line. I was not aware that I was tres- 



72 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

passing, but even if I did trespass that was no excuse for treating 
me as English gentlemen treat partridges in the shooting season. 
I was entitled to a warning before being potted at. The incident 
was another illustration of the blood-letting mania that possessed 
defenders of their country in out-of-the-way parts of the earth. 

J. Poland 

The first thing I did on reaching Warsaw was to spend a 
whole day disinfecting myself. At the same time I could see 
quite plainly that the relief would be only a temporary one. 
This remarkable city had nothing to boast of in the matter of 
cleanliness. Indeed, when I visited it in 1919 it was in a worse 
condition even than Moscow. To say that it was crumpled up 
is to pay it a compliment. It was worse than a wreck, and 
prices were higher even than in England to-day. The cost of 
being buried in an egg chest was ^1,000, and then your 
family were expected to play the parts of funeral mutes. If 
your family or friends refused to carry you to the grave there 
was nothing left for the undertaker to do but to put you in the 
dust-bin. Prices were sky-high. Everything cost a fortune. 
Consequently, no one ate. They followed the example of the 
true poet who never eats, at least not at his own expense. I 
remember going with the wife of a famous Polish composer 
to the old market. She looked very thin and ill and I invited 
her to have some refreshment. We went to a pastrycook who, 
like the rest of the shopkeeper tribe, put a princely price on 
everything. I ordered a large dish of cakes, which to judge 
by their solidity and smell were luxuries meant for sewer rats, 
and should have cost, say, tuppence or threepence a cartload, 
but which actually cost a king's ransom a-piece. But the point 
is that my friend started on this banquet and never stopped till 
every crumb was consumed. 

That Poland in 19 19, 1920 and for a year or so after, should 
be in a state of financial and architectural and civic rottenness, 
is not to be wondered at when the terrible events which it had 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 73 

gone through since 1914 are recalled. Three foreign nations, 
Russia, Germany and Austria, had taken a very strong interest 
in a country which they had divided up between them. And 
as during the War victory turned now this way and now that, 
so there were evacuations and re-occupations of much of the 
Polish territory, but in particular Warsaw. Between the three, 
Warsaw was sweated to death. Each army as it evacuated the 
city helped itself freely to any material that could be used for 
war material or for making money. The metal roofs of the 
houses and churches disappeared, so did the water pipes and 
house fittings generally. Telephone receivers took part in this 
exodus of property. Gradually Poland came to assume the 
appearance of a city that had been thoroughly skinned. 

Therefore it will not cause surprise when I say that my 
first encounter with the Polish cinemas sent me hot-foot to the 
nearest disinfecting station. Every establishment was alike 
dirty, dark and dilapidated. Probably they had all gone bank- 
rupt and would have closed down, but I think their proprietors 
were requested to keep them going on behalf of the public. I 
fancy the Polish authorities had read into them a function of 
service. In any case, they were open and doing something to 
encourage the population to keep a stiff upper lip and to 
strengthen the spirit of patriotism which the realisation of a Free 
Poland had re-kindled. 

Before considering the subjects then exhibited, let me indi- 
cate political events of which the pictures were to some extent 
the consequence. When I commenced my cross-European 
journeys in 1919, the Peace Treaty had divided much territory 
among peoples who claimed to have been dispossessed of their 
rightful kingdoms and their national rights. For instance, there 
was Poland. This parcelling-up business yielded a small crop 
of nations with different objectives. There were, in particular, 
three or four classes of nations with different aims. I allude to 
the victorious nations, England, France, etc.; the defeated 
nations, Germany, etc.; the liberated nations, Poland, etc.; and 



74 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the nations formed by peoples of races that had been separated, 
and were now rejoined under the terms of the Peace Treaty, such 
as Czecho-Slovakia, Jugo-Slovakia, etc. All alike were dominated 
by one big emotion, Fear. All demonstrated that they were 
moved by that common emotion. Their cultural expression was 
full of propaganda resting on Fear. Anyone could see that some 
sought to prevent the repetition of a disaster which had 
threatened to overwhelm them; others to maintain the advan- 
tages which they had gained; others to ward off the worst evils 
of the reverses they had sustained. The War had evoked one 
set of varieties of Fear. The Russian Revolution had evoked 
another set. The whole of Europe was paralysed by Fear, and 
while the whole of Europe employed a common method to over- 
come the causes; while a wave of propaganda unequalled in 
volume and force swept over the entire continent, dominating 
all thought and action; when analysed it was seen to be a 
method of methods. In other words, different nations sought 
to attain their objects each by its own method. The Poles, for 
instance, sought alliances for the sake of protection, just as 
within the past three or four years there have been immense 
business amalgamations for the sake of protection, and they set 
up barriers to ward off the new reign of terror threatened by the 
bolshevist invasion. Such barriers consisted of the most intense 
expression of nationalism and patriotism. 

The widespread struggle for victory and liberation caused 
by Fear bred new ideologies. In England in 1920 there was the 
beginning of a new ideology which has since developed into 
an ideological struggle of an individualist character not 
of the collectivist character of the Russian struggle. It 
is the struggle between the fossilised ideas and new ones which 
have been fertilised since the War. Applied sociology, or 
sociological studies of human communities, far-reaching investi- 
gations into sex, have, for instance, made valuable contributions 
towards the new ideology. As I shall point out later, many 
of the post-war pictures have expressed aspects of the ideology 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 75 

in spite of the financial policy and management of the Cinema. 

The past eventful eleven years have, then, witnessed the 
emergence of new ideologies under the pressure of fear, desire 
for liberation, for freedom of self-expression and development, 
for associative system of government, and new forms of social 
growth and development. 

The process of ideology making was well-marked in 
Poland at the distressful stage of its history which I have 
described. There was perceptible in 19 19 a desire to encourage 
the use of the cultural establishments, especially the Theatre, 
Opera House and Cinema in sustaining the spirits of the people 
under severe trial, in making known the importance of Poland, 
in developing and maintaining patriotism. This was one of 
the first examples of the use of cultural establishments in nation- 
building by the new European nations, that I came across. 

The changing ideology was to be traced in the pictures pro- 
duced and selected. The Polish Film Industry began about 
1912 when the first two pictures were produced. Two pictures 
were produced yearly till 1926. At first the pictures were deter- 
mined by the occupying armies. Exhibitions of patriotism were 
sternly suppressed by the Tsarist authorities. More licence was 
permitted in Cracow. Indeed the whole of Austrian Poland 
enjoyed a moderate autonomy. Here, fervent patriotism such as 
Wyspianski, Poland's poet and dramatist, sought to express, was 
tolerated. Still there is nothing in the titles of the pictures pro- 
duced between 1912 and the fall of the Russian Tsarist regime, 
to suggest that they were determined by a national and patriotic 
ambition. In 1917-18 came a change of title to denote the be- 
ginning of a new state of affairs and an ideology of escape in- 
stead of servitude. The subjects of the pictures showed the 
Polish people attacking the Tsar and the Tsarist regime. 
' Tsarism and its Slaves," and " The Favourite of the Tsar," 
plainly indicated that the Cinema was now organising public 
opinion in support of the full rights of a liberated nation. Fol- 
lowing these came stronger and stronger expressions of 



y6 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

patriotism and nationalism in such home-made pictures as " The 
Shot " and " The Heroism of The Polish Scout." 

By 1922-23 there was a marked improvement, though 
economic and social conditions were still bad. Cinema taxation 
was as high as 50 p.c. One, however, saw the exhibitors taking 
the golden path again. The 32 cinemas in Warsaw and the 
100 in Poland, had received a visit from the renovator, and 
electric light embraced them as though they were in the heart 
of Paris. The main object of promoting a powerful national 
spirit had become a common one. As there were but two Pro- 
duction Companies, and two home-made pictures a year were 
not sufficient to satisfy the public craving for large helpings of 
memory and aspiration, foreign productions were called in. 
Of course America was already there circulating its wonders 
but only so far as the ruinous cost would allow. Plunging on 
the newest American pictures was like plunging at Monte Carlo. 
The Palace Kino had sunk all its capital in the fourteen days 
rent of the Carpentier-Dempsey fight, which amounted to 
300,000 Polish marks. Conducting a Cinema on this basis was 
simply asking for bankruptcy notwithstanding that the public 
demand was for strong, invigorating, sensational fare, and 
boxing matches that had a high eugenic value. The price of 
pictures was sending exhibitors to the cheapest markets whence 
they drew a supply of goods suitable for their propaganda pur- 
pose though much of it deserved an old age pension. The order 
of pictures purchased was 1. German; 2. American; 3. an assort- 
ment of old French and Italian spectacle specialities. I noted 
that exhibitors were asking for D. W. Griffith pictures, as many 
as they could get of this prodigious producer's stories. In par- 
ticular they were clamouring for 1. " Way Down East;" 2. 
" Broken Blossoms;" 3. " The Two Orphans;" all three so 
peculiarly adapted, so they thought, to serve public need. Then 
they were after new Chaplins and foreign sport pictures. But 
they never tired of telling me that the rent of the pictures they 
wanted was enough to break Poland. " Look at the cost of a 




ough 
egion 
work 


^T3 

S cj 

03 CO 

8 K 


73 

3 
T3 




-5 


ih 


~ 


"43 


Ih 


> 




g 

53 


cu 

Ih 

Ih 

u 


g 

03 
u 


X 


ft^U 

cu .a 




l-H 


CO 


O 


T3 


03 


Ih 

CU 




u 


'8 


r 


C 


Cj 






o 


CO 

CU 

cj 


OS 


CJ 


'3 




_z 


>_ 


P 


'rt 


cu P* 

ft cfl 




o 

co 


C 


O 

ft 


u 

'5 


CO 

CU 


<-M 






u 

<+H 

J-H 

<u 

Oh 


4) 

c 



73 
o 


cu 
u 

73 

ft 
O 


— I G cj 

"* Cfl <U 

3 8S 




Cfl 


>H 

cfl 


CO 


03 


X 


c 




"■"' 


C 

t+H 

o 


■M 


, 


GT3 




e 

53 

CO 

IS 


03 

CO 

_5 


03 
U 

"m 





03 

a 


Cfl 

</T 

CU 
CO 

co 




h 


* 


•tJ 


ft 

a 


CO 


CU 




cu 




X?X 

„ -4-» 
03 C 
CJ 03 


O 

CU 

o 




Ih 

ft 

"3 




X 

ft 


£ 


"3d 

c 


03 


4h 
O 


Ih 




w 


p 
o 


.c 




CO 

CJ 


73 

c 




c 
cfl 
CU 



T3 


u 




Cfl 

ft 


'+3 >» 

CU,Q 




i — i 


03 




3 


X 


— 




i>> 


+-> 


CO 


o 


X 


u 




42 


•'- , 


i-. 


o 


ri 


{> 






CO 


CU 


o 








T3 




lH 











CU 

o 




*cfl 
O 


73 
Ih 


CU 




u 

-3 


IS 
a 




J* 

X5 03 


73 

G 


X 

O 






4-i 


CD 


>H 


CU 


x 1 


4h 




<^ 


C 


<U 


MX 




s 


1) 


£ 





H 




Jv 

^J 


c 


>. W) 









£ 


1—1 


X 


j/v 




c 


• 




d 


~3 
CJ 


73 
CJ 


2 


.0 


1 


s 


en 




> 






co 


Sjfcra 


u 
Ih 


-3 

73 




ft 


-a 


c 

4-) 


cfl 

C 



G 

CU 


c 

X 

03 

o 


p3h 

ft 


4) 
ft 


Ih 

X 

H 


£ 
o 
u 

Ih 


u 

*^ 
o 

§ 


cfl 




CJ 




a 


3 


z 


c 


X! 


Ih 


M 

Cfl 


73 


c 


JZ 


s 


U 


o 
2? 


G 


c 


03 




c 


2 
>> 


c 
u 


x; 


cfl 

X 


O 


u 


1 
03 


- 


CU 

o 

3 


c 


U 


| 




o +- o 


CO 




X,' 


73 




a o 


H 
ft 


*■» 


< 


u 

Ih 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 77 

new Chaplin for three weeks/' they would exclaim, " 1,000,000 
Polish marks." " Look at the cost of other foreign specialities, 
— some of them 4,000,000 marks each, at least. How are we to 
get that back from audiences who have not sufficient money 
to buy two ounces of bread a week? " Not being a born mathe- 
matician, I gave it up. But I noticed the cinemas were booming 
all the same. 

It is worthy of note that censorship was very strict, particu- 
larly regarding Soviet Russian subjects. But there was no 
organised fight against it as there is to-day in Western Europe, 
where intellectuals and aesthetes, both Right and Left ones, 
are going about their countries demanding that Russian pictures 
shall be recognised and exhibited to the toiling Mass. The 
fact is the Polish people had had as much of Russia as they 
wanted for a century or two. Poland had been liberated from 
the Russian toils, the facts of a new world were asking to be 
added to the general knowledge of the people. Such knowl- 
edge must be guarded and transmitted and made clear and 
intelligible to the common folk. When that was done it would 
be time to pay attention to the cultural advertisements of a 
country that too long had been a bitter thorn in Poland's 
side. 

The Polish people could afford to be indifferent to censorship, 
even to assist it, for the task of their cultural establishments was 
to define and interpret nationalism and patriotism, to follow 
the lead set by the Polski theatre and the Opera House. The 
latter was busy indeed in providing first instalments of the 
common heritage — in folk-songs, dances, legends — all, the stuff 
of which the Folk themselves were made, derived from desire, 
occupation and natural environment, the true sociological stuff 
of communities. There was a wonderful opera-full of real 
Poland. It was called " Pan Twardowski " and was the in- 
spired work of Ludomir Rozycki. I begged some of our mag- 
nates to import it and give the English people an opportunity 
of seeing how a liberated country puts itself on the stage. But 



78 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

they were not engaged in selling liberated countries just then; 
they were selling dirty sex. 

Among the imported pictures that from time to time I 
noticed engaged in Polish propaganda were Conqueror and 
Victory pictures, such as " Napoleon " at the Kino-Stylowy, the 
headquarters of the Esti-Film Syndicate; Resurrection pictures, 
such as " Resurrection of 1863;" Nationalist pictures, " 1865," 
at the Coliseum, a national film with a love interest produced at 
Warsaw. Of course there was a quantity of mixed fare con- 
sisting of sex, " Casanova," scenes in the life of the Italian 
adventurer; splendour and voluptuousness, " Pearl of Warsaw," 
a German monumental Eastern spectacular picture; and a 
Roman Ballet type of picture portraying love, hate, revenge; and 
the Western romantic serial, such as " Hercules Armstrong," a 
sinewy gentleman who at one time was to be met making his 
appearance all over Europe. 



K. Baltic States 

In some respects the Baltic States resembled Poland. They 
too were liberated from an old yoke and for a time were to be 
seen organising freedom under unparallelled conditions. No 
money and no credit. There was the wreckage of the Cinema 
Industry which the German occupiers had established, and there 
were cinemas which had to throw off a lot of useless cumber 
heaped on them by Germans, Russians and other occupiers. 
In Reval, for instance, in those early days, I counted 11 cinemas. 
They were showing old pictures titled in three languages 
Russian, German and Lettish. These titles told the story at 
length, with the result that they took so long to roll on that 
seeing a picture was mainly a matter of getting fleeting glimpses 
of movement and getting drinks. In Riga it was much the 
same. There were a few cinemas some of them of the pre- 
war luxury type but all alike in the " untouchable " condition. 
The pictures were determined not only by national necessity 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 79 

but by an event of some importance, namely the presence of 
English sailors in Riga, Reval and elsewhere. Like the Polish 
cinemas, they were, however, affected by economic conditions. 
Exhibitors insisted that the price of good foreign pictures was 
so high that they could not afford to pay it. Hence folk must 
read the Life and Death struggle in the crudities that marked 
the beginning of the Cinema Industry, and take a sob or a thrill 
or a laugh from any old-timer that was lying on the shelf, or 
could be bought at bargain price. I noticed that for a year or 
two our old friend " Hercules Armstrong " was first favourite. 
Hercules was the early type of he-man who goes through a 
thousand thrilling adventures and emerges unscathed. To the 
audience this picture symbolised, I think, the eternal theme of 
Man's struggle with destiny. It had in fact a crude Laocoon 
character, or a sort of Lear-like struggle against overwhelming 
disaster. It was no hard matter for an audience faced with 
struggle and adversity of the worst kind to put itself in the place 
of Hercules and thus form the nation, Latvia, Lithuania, 
Esthonia, as the case might be, surrounded and attacked by 
enemies, say cut-throats and brigands, and like Hercules emerg- 
ing victorious from each encounter. Likewise the audience, in 
imagination, took the place of the cowboy who to them was a 
force fighting for and saving the nation. There was Hart, the 
two-gun man, as he was called, who was always turning up 
in the nick of time to rescue the persecuted and much be- 
battered maiden. The virility of the leading actor, the wonder- 
ful romance of the scenery, and the triumph of virtue over vice 
all served to mix the audience with the action of the picture. 
Other Transatlantic thrillers that drew the crowd, included 
" The Red Glove " and the serial, " Elmo the Mighty." The 
cinemas in the Baltic States gradually recovered along the line of 
the Polish ones. They put on flesh and electric light and took 
unto themselves a goodly supply of Hollywood's attractive if 
not most expensive pictures. 

From the aforegoing it will be gathered that, in the 



80 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

countries described, the Cinema from 1919 to 1923, or a little 
later, pursued two paths and fulfilled two functions. On the 
one hand, the financial policy and management were maintained 
though under the utmost difficulty; on the other, the broad 
Mass of human beings, fear-stricken, deeply touched by suffering 
and patient in tribulation, read into the Cinema a new function 
which actually was the original good purpose with which it 
started. They recognised that it was an organic part of them- 
selves capable of reflecting their wishes and ideas. These two 
paths were clearly perceptible till the financial policy once again 
asserted itself and widened out and overspread the human one 
which came to the surface occasionally only under the spur 
of a political, economic or social crisis, or when ideological 
material got into the pictures unknown to their producers. This 
was the case when the mighty Hollywood Magnates took to 
selling the War, Crime and Sex. 

L. Hungary 

What was the Hungarian Cinema doing at the beginning 
of 1920? It was rather in the fire. The War had given it an 
air of nastiness to which the fumes of a revolution had been 
added. This revolution, run on the model of the Russian one, 
turned it into an instrument of revolutionary propaganda. The 
ideology expressed by the pictures was intended to awaken 
similar ideology in the minds of the audience. It was an in- 
structive demonstration of how the Cinema can be put to political 
service at a moment's notice. But on the whole it was love's 
labour lost, for the revolution lasted only six months, the revo- 
lutionists either fled or were arrested, and the nation reduced 
to a terrible economic condition, was left to put its cultural 
establishments in order as best it could. 

The subsequent story of the Cinema was the usual story of 
slow recovery along the two paths, financial and public service. 
Three years later the Cinema had emerged on the high road 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 81 

of practical commercialism again. There were two things about 
this revival which, in particular, took my notice. One of them 
was not confined to Hungary. Though cinema business was 
bad and exhibitors were to be met everywhere wringing their 
hands and crying, " We've got no money " (always in English 
let it be said, as though they thought it rather nice to know so 
much of a fairly universal language), there was always a good 
supply of fat little Cinema Year Books. I sometimes thought 
I should like to be a publisher of European Cinema Year Books. 
It must be rather easy to sell copies and get rich. They were 
really joy books. A mere glance at their contents was sufficient 
to show that all the Cinema Trade was in its place, all the 
technicians and good men were in the Cinema Industry, and 
all was right with the Cinema World. There was for instance 
a fairly early edition of the " Lichtbild Buhne," a German Year 
Book, which contained more than 400 pages, and was crowded 
to death by the advertisements of producers, renters, exhibitors, 
apparatus makers and sellers, etc. There was another fat little 
book, whose birthplace I have forgotten. It had 700 pages of 
small type and illustrations, and contained facts and figures 
that led me to believe that the Commercial Cinema Millennium 
had really arrived. Yet whenever I showed a copy of this testa- 
ment to a weeping exhibitor, his only remark was, " Yes, the 
publishers are making money but the poor exhibitors are not." 
So I came to the conclusion that the Year Book was a new 
form of fairy tale, the Money Producer's Manual. 

Another tendency was to make much of the English, such 
as I had noticed at Reval. By chance I met at Budapest a 
delegation of Oxford men including Professor Julian Huxley. 
I was invited to join them and together we tasted a very rich 
and large portion of Hungarian hospitality and were filmed to 
make the public smile and it did not cost us a penny. That 
made the really sound Scotchmen in our ranks glow. 

The third tendency was one that I was destined to meet 
in neighbouring countries. Laughter had taken possession of 



82 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the Cinema, loud and exhilarating laughter that stretched like 
a sunburst across the dark places, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, 
Austria, and found a boundary in France. The fact is that an 
amazing number of early American comic shorts had invaded 
this wide territory and were falling over each other in the en- 
deavour to change the atmosphere in places as far apart as 
Budapest and Paris. These short reels were not news reels, 
that is, the portrayal of current events and educational matter 
that nowaday forms a part of every cinema programme, and 
without which a programme is not complete. (Such gazettes I 
may say provide more sociological interest than most of the 
biggest pictures with lots of entertainment value.) The majority 
of the little reels told funny stories, a few were intense little 
dramas. Any one of them could be rolled round the finger. 
There must have been thousands of them. I did not stop to 
inquire how many there where or whence they came. Probably 
the fresh-looking ones had been in cold storage, others not so 
fresh but given to pumping out flicker and dull and brilliant 
spots by turn, had no doubt seen full service. Together they 
provided an invaluable portrait gallery of the first and early 
stars of the screen. Among the elite you saw Charlie Chaplin, 
John Bunny, " Fatty " Arbuckle, Mack Sennett, Mabel 
Normand, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Denny, Mary Pick- 
ford, William Farnum, Maurice Costello, Flora Finch, Florence 
Turner, Marie Dressier, Polly Moran, the stars of the comic 
shorts of Raymond Griffith, and so on, and so on. These 
revivals and revivers brought one face to face with the two 
paths, one, of the men who sought to make big money out of 
little reels, and the other, of the people who refused to be 
downhearted while there was the Cinema to keep them laugh- 
ing. 

But in spite of this improvement and relief, Hungary had 
not much to boast of. It was by no means the heart of the 
money world. It could proudly boast that the Hungarian 
kronen had fallen so low that it would soon hold the record for 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 83 

horizontal currency. There were between 90 and 100 cinemas 
in Budapest; and 19 studios turning out about 1 p.c. of home- 
pictures mostly of very inferior quality. Charges for admission 
were exceedingly high. Moreover whenever the exchange rate 
dropped one point, prices went up three. This kind of balanc- 
ing of accounts went on all over Europe. The lower money 
fell the higher you had to climb to exchange it for food and 
clothes. And whenever the money tried to rise and apologise 
you paused in your travels to write articles on this strange event. 
It sounds like England in 1930. 

M. Austria 

Vienna, when I visited it in 1923, was indeed clothed in 
shining laughter, or to be precise, its cinemas were. And about 
time. If there is a city in the world that has suffered more than 
the once proud capital of the Austrian Empire, former heart of 
the money world, the Mecca of culture, then I should like to 
know where it is. So far my globe trotting has not revealed 
it to me. The sight of Vienna's plight immediately after the 
War was heart-breaking. I have related it elsewhere. 1 In 1919, 
Vienna was practically all that remained of an Empire after the 
Peace-makers at Versailles had done carving mid-Europe up. Its 
3,000,000 inhabitants had two engrossing occupations, starving 
and smuggling. Each day thousands tried to creep out of Vienna 
in order to exchange art treasures for potatoes, and to creep 
back again through a relentless customs barrier that took from 
them all they had got, if they were not cunning enough to con- 
ceal it. You can guess the devices that came into fashion. False 
hair that concealed ha'p'orths of butter and ancient eggs. And 
many others worthy of a museum. And while the adult popu- 
lation was thus qualifying for Vienna's prisons or Chamber of 
Horrors, the baby population were qualifying for heaven 
stretched in rows beneath the sun which was expected to burn 

1 See " The New Spirit in the European Theatre," Huntly Carter. 



84 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the effects of pre-natal physical injuries out of them. The 
starvation of the mothers was visited upon the children. There 
were cinemas and scrap-heap films, but as it took days at a 
time for folk to imitate Chicago rum-runners, there were few 
moments left for seeing pictures. 

The passing years brought relief and recovery, though the 
exchange fell to pieces. 1923 saw you trudging round to the 
nearest bank with a pound note to change, and you heard the 
pleasant words of the cashier, " Take this key and get you to the 
vault and help yourself." It was always advisable to do the 
rounds of the shops with two pantechnicons, one to carry the 
purchase money, the other to collect the small change. A 
similar thing happened when you went to the pictures. 

The cause of Vienna's Sunny Jim atmosphere was an 
interesting one. The Opern and Fliiger Kinos were living on 
shorts. But the great attraction was the Lustspeilabend, a sort 
of weekly festival, with a programme of from eight to ten star 
shorts, including, say, " Fatty " Arbuckle and Virginia Rappe, 
an old Chaplin, "At the Dance," "Fatty" as "Servant," 
" Fatty " as " Loschmeister," and a Pickford and Bunny. There 
were four shows a night, at 4; 5.45; 6.30 and 7.45. Early closing 
was symptomatic of economic conditions. There was no arti- 
ficial light after 8.30, and no conveyances of any sort. " Fatty " 
was exceedingly popular. His name circled the city in letters 
almost a mile high. In his pictures he usually " played oppo- 
site " Rappe (the cinema player whose death " Fatty " was 
accused of having caused at a wild cocktail party near Holly- 
wood in 1927). Though he was acquitted, he fell from public 
favour, or was it that his association with an unpleasant matter 
gave the Film Kings much pause? To exploit anyone less than 
an angel would, of course, be a stain upon their characters. 
Vienna seat prices sent you into a cold sweat. They ranged 
from 4,000 to 12,000 kronen. After 1923 they were considerably 
worse. There came a time when new films cost from 1,000,000 
to 10,000,000 kronen for four days' hire. This state of things 




2 8 



3 o 



S 5 

O C/D 

£ & 

<u C 

i- 1 

e 

03 



J <u o 



,5.5 
° c5J2 



IS « 

'S oj 



r3 lab 

C 

03 



2£ = 



S w £ 
?"5 § 



> CO I-. 

^ c ° 
^ <" • 



o 

■f 

O 05 00 >, 

03 









5 fl .gh 

<u <u C 



Tl <u <u 



O 4) .5 N 

£ +- K _, O 






CC^ 



^2 



03 ^ O 

mm 

o £ m^O « 






C ° +- S V 

O 3 03 .£ -T 

o3 ~0 £, ^ ^ =3 
y C 03 T3 A 3 






C 03 

!■»- Me" 

ox: 03 _^ 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 85 

almost stopped importation. Germany's economic situation 
alone prevented complete stoppage. Faced with financial ruin 
Germany was able to export at a rate well within the means of 
a country impoverished even as Austria was. Hence in the 
transitional years, those between complete financial collapse and 
stabilisation, I found the Vienna luxury cinemas, like the 
Rosensturm, exhibiting fairly new German types of social and 
spectacle pictures, and in addition the Roman spectacle picture 
of an early date. As to home production, there were 43 Austrian 
studios of a highly unindustrious character. Nine of them, the 
Astoria, Dreamland, Mordial Olympic, Sacha, Schonbrum, 
Staatliche Bundes, Vita and the Micheluzzi and Co. Film- 
fabriken had produced a few creditable pictures of a national 
type. The sight of Austria thus getting out of the workhouse 
did one good. 

N. Czecho-Slovakia 

Czecho-Slovakia has, since the War, been a kind of blessed 
inland sea full of the salt of life. To a great extent it was a 
protected State from the moment it gained liberation. If it had 
hardships, they arose more from its geographical position than 
from economic necessity. It consisted of one of the most pros- 
perous industrial provinces cut bodily from Austria, in such a 
manner that it was able to continue to do business uninter- 
ruptedly, like a branch shop cut off from a multiple commercial 
undertaking. The fact is, its poor neighbours were the cause of 
sorrow. Austria having, not without protest, given birth to a 
very vigorous competitor, had no money to buy its goods. And 
Germany on the other side, though an exceedingly useful 
country, was also without money. Between the two Czecho- 
slovakia was hard put to it to find a profitable outlet for its 
produce. Production was at high water-mark, but low currency 
forced down the price of exports. Hence arose the uncommon 
and complicated situation of its neighbours being unable to buy 



86 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

except at famine prices, and Czechoslovakia being unable to 
sell because the low prices compelled the manufacturers to pay 
low wages, and low wages caused the workers to strike. 

So when I came to make my first visit to Prague I was 
faced with cinemas strutting about in an unusual state of pre- 
servation and brightness what time their proprietors stood still 
and wept. " Nothing doing/' they replied to my inquiries after 
the health of trade. " Absolutely nothing. We want some of 
the big pictures. Give us some Griffith or Goldwyn pictures. 
All we have got to go on with are the early shorts." " Life is 
short," I commented. " Where I have just come from " (mean- 
ing Russia and the bordering countries) "it is the shortest thing 
on earth." Then I stole silently away. 

Change came swiftly enough. The years passed and refined 
comedies replaced the knockabouts and feature picture plays, 
and tragedies replaced the early Westerns. Even the vanguard 
of the new German psychological, phantasy and trick photo- 
graphy pictures began to appear. In a country that was pros- 
perous in spite of its neighbours being broke, there was bound 
to be less of deep human interest in the pictures. Though 
Czecho-Slovakia was busy for a year or two nation-building, 
and called upon its cultural establishments to participate in the 
work, there was not so much new reading of the function of the 
Cinema required as in other and deeply-distressed countries. 
Little, prosperous Czecho-Slovakia, wedged in between great 
States that had dwindled to the semblance of fifth-rate ones, was 
very useful to the observer. It showed that while normal con- 
ditions prevailed folk did not trouble to recognise as an organic 
part of themselves those cultural institutions which once upon 
a time had grown out of their inner necessities; and while 
abnormal conditions prevailed they instinctively turned to them 
for an expression of their vital collective needs. In prosperous 
centres, like Czecho-Slovakia, England, France and America, 
the whole meaning of the Cinema changed. In those countries 
it seemed to be assumed that the Cinema was not an instrument 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 87 

of expression to which the folk could take their memories and 
aspirations and have them interpreted, but one to which mil- 
lionaires took their goods, praised them as beautiful things, and 
sold bits of social life that moved to and fro upon the screen 
singing Stock Exchange songs. 

It was probably for this reason that about 1923 or 1924 
there was little, cinematically speaking, to distinguish Czecho- 
slovakia from Paris or London. In Prague alone there were 64 
cinemas, many of them of the first-class order. There were no 
less than eight production studios forming a miniature Holly- 
wood. Pictures suitable for export were being produced by the 
A.B., Weber, Poja, the Lloyd and Atropos Picture Production 
Companies. Their pictures, including " Van propasli," 
"Cikani," "Peslodni polibek " ("The Last Kiss"), " Sur 
l'Abime," had travelled, or were about to travel, to America, 
France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere. 

Though Czecho-Slovakia had the luck to export and import 
millionaire pictures, national and human interests were not alto- 
gether left out in the cold. A danger or two menaced the 
country. Fear was still drawing dividends, for Soviet Russia 
refused to die. Moreover, something remained to be done to 
complete the building of the new little kingdom. Hence, the 
demand for D. W. Griffith. Exhibitors told me that if I came 
across a copy of " The Birth of a Nation " I was to send it along. 
" Intolerance " and " Way Down East " were also wanted. It 
did not surprise me to hear that Griffith was in demand. 
Though " The Birth of a Nation " is highly controversial and 
calculated to offend some countries, the generality of Griffith 
pictures have points of appeal to the common people. ; ' Way 
Down East " has the oldest story, the story of an innocent girl 
who suffers for a man's sin. 1 It was not hard for folk in countries 
that were drawn into the War against their inclination, to read 
their own troubles into this picture. In " Intolerance " we have 
Griffith's favourite theme of intolerance of human beings to 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Daily Express, November 19, 1928. 



88 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

human beings. 1 Such a theme produced on an unthinkable 
scale of magnificence could not fail to move multitudes. It was 
an excellent thing to be the first in the Cinema world with the 
oldest mixture, oldest melodrama, oldest theme, oldest moral, 
for when we come to think of it they are the oldest con- 
stituents of human beings themselves. I think that Douglas 
Fairbanks has also made it a life practice to sell some of the 
" oldest " stuff. Look at his " Taming of The Shrew." What 
is it but the taming of speed, wind and Shakespearean smells 
mixed. As a result you have the Taming of the Primitive in 
Douglas himself. 

Prague exhibitors also welcomed Goldwyn and Universal 
pictures. At that time personality was beginning to take the 
centre of the stage. Goldwyn had discovered and was exploiting 
Will Rogers, the American humourist. " It was in revolt against 
the suppression of personality that, early in 1919, Douglas Fair- 
banks conceived the idea of the United Artists which Mary Pick- 
ford, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith helped to found. He 
sought artistic liberty." 2 Nowaday, Mr. Joseph Schenck is closely 
identified with the activities of this corporation. 

By 1926 Czecho-Slovakia had fully taken the Gold-Rush 
path. Like the generality of Europeon cities, its cinemas were 
practically owned by American Film Kings. Prague was 
stamped all over with the names of three big American cor- 
porations. The name of Goldwyn was to be met forming end- 
less combinations with the names of Mayer and Metro and 
Gaumont and many more. Pictures fell into three or four types. 
Pro- and anti-Russian were symptomatic of a mixture of public 
fear and confidence. Cecil B. de Mille's " Volga Boatman," 
" Michael Strogov," with its incident of the miraculous restora- 
tion of sight to the hero after he has had his eyes burnt out, 
and A. Moskvin's " Stenka Razin," may be said to have been 
slices of the usual anti-Soviet pudding; while the wild advance 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Daily Express, November 19, 1928. 

2 The Daily Chronicle, August 7, 1929. 




3-5P 



£<~ 



4-1 ~ <u 

C O 






o 1 <^- 



o rt 






So-* 



<3 +3 .§ 



* bO . u > « 
^ C oo t O O ^« 

*.* 2\* w>° 

ft? I «S.9 ? 

O co r ^ U 



1 >,<+< 

;t3 o 

■ Jh -£« CD _ 

c « £ o 

P £ P'-M 



JJfc 



o Y w G 
o-i 3 o 

£ 3^ti 2° i: ^ 

£ gTD-g - « ° 

Ag S-6 8*: .2 

s> £ b£ as >h cP 

§<*.£. ^£ P- 

°.£ -^ M S 



I S ^ -M 

p* C"*< el cS o^s « «-h 



fl 4» 



5 



S3 w> u 



so ~ s-a 



1) fl> C 0) 

£ Td -g tf &;£ £ 
2 £ ^ ^ M w 

w *T be £ c, J£ 
See 



-a o 



-18 MI* 

ij "=5 tD S a a?32 

E Sx: o3 fl ., 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 89 

publicity of Eisenstein's " Potemkin," which had half buried the 
city in foreign press-notices and filled the bookshops with little 
illustrated volumes relating the revolutionary story, was evidently 
a big helping of unusual pro-Soviet custard. Valentino had also 
arrived with his load of half-savage Sheik sex hypnotism. ' The 
Son of The Sheik " was bringing sex-starved women to their 
knees in adoration. And there was Douglas Fairbanks serving 
liberal portions of his primitive personality basted all over with 
pre-historic romance, in the stereotyped cut-and-dried manner. 
To-day Czecho-Slovakia has nothing to boast of in the matter of 
picture production. It has two factories, and about 90 cinemas 
which lean heavily on America and Germany for goods. 

O. France 

From the beginning, the story of the French cinema has 
been almost similar to that of the English one. In the beginning 
both were little brothers to the Theatre. Before the War both 
had a considerable output of home pictures, and France supplied 
a very high percentage (90 p.c, it is said) of the world's pictures. 
Both lost their favourable position soon after the War began. 
By 1916 90 p.c. of the pictures shown in England were American. 
Neither has regained its predominance. Since the Quota Act, 
England has been advancing at the head of that small group of 
European countries which has been glancing anxiously and 
seriously towards the possibility of Cinema Industry revival. 

During the War the two cinemas continued to run on 
parallel lines, the one maintaining a very large popularity, the 
other a comparatively small one. To-day but 7 p.c. of the 
French population goes to the Cinema, and this proportion has 
been stationary for several years. At wartime the cinemas in 
Paris attracted a very large number of the foreign soldiers with 
which the capital was always full. Also of the settled war 
workers and relief bodies. There was a good deal of co-opera- 
tion between the two countries in providing material for this 



90 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

miscellaneous crowd, and there was not much difference between 
the commercial policy and management of the two cinemas. 
Government propaganda aims differed in some respects accord- 
ing to the different collective needs of the populations. It is 
worthy of note that the number of cinemas in each country was 
nearly the same at wartime, being about 4,000 in England, and 
a little less in France. But the averages of attendances differed 
in the provinces owing to the different attitudes of the popula- 
tions in the country districts towards the Cinema. Again, both 
countries were flooded with American pictures, and in both the 
cinemas fell into the hands of unscrupulous profiteers. 

Not much can be said about the new reading of the func- 
tion of the Cinema in France. The fact that France was the 
battlefield, and the German army was making titanic efforts to 
enter Paris, made Fear the predominating emotion. Intense 
patriotism rose to meet it. Every attempt was made to keep 
up the fighting spirit of the people and to blot out of memory 
everything except the necessity of shedding its last drop of blood 
for its country. Along with this went a strenuous effort to 
stimulate the fighting ardour of the troops, and to keep the 
desire of foreign soldiers to co-operate in the work of freeing 
France from the invader, at fever heat. As army after army, 
English, Russian, American, etc., marched into Paris, the order 
was given to provide the most suitable national dishes, or inter- 
national ones, of sexual and erotic stuff, calculated to satisfy a 
common dirty palate. 

After the War, Hollywood rapidly became the cinema hub 
of France. A victorious nation, its population sank into apathy, 
lost touch with the verities which the terrifying events of the 
War brought to the front, became dissociated from vital 
interests, and displayed complete indifference to matters of great 
significance. The cinema consequences were plainly to be seen 
everywhere. In 1920 the cinemas on the Grand Boulevards 
looked like two flaming processions exhibiting an unparallelled 
hodge-podge of pictures of all types except the true social ones. 




J3 « C +i 

CxD -t-J cj CO 

•5 1-1 o 

. co a) i-t 

O * , 

9)^ u +i 

a) o "G c 

o oK a 
'5 o ? >> . 

"K "fl ? •"£ w 

23 5 O -= <u 

w » »-3 8 
S c c <u o 

« rt o o Cl, 
'—>h3 ^X^ 

£%£* s 
IS ^ 

O D Ifl Bl Jj 

.§£■5°. si 



U 



a; co 
*J « 5 C o 

^3 X, +£ X *° 
«H „, Oh -O P 

g^5 S S S 

Ji.sas 

U , O u fi 



££ 






THE PERSONAL EQUATION 91 

Pictures were selected to affect the audience sentimentally but 
not to orient the questions put by it. Entertainment came first 
with its " sure-fire " box office values. It was responsible for a 
glut of American specialities, particularly sex and crime pictures, 
and fourth-rate French comedies, dramas, farce, and other 
theatrical attractions, exhibited principally for the benefit of the 
lingering soldiers. Next came some public service pictures, in- 
cluding national and patriotic ones made from standard novels, 
stories and plays. They were not intentionally meant to allay 
the lingering or renewed fear of the public, or to suggest a 
way out of chaos, but to rouse it out of its torpor. Under the 
influence of this more stimulating diet probably the attention of 
the audience was turned towards economic and social reconstruc- 
tion, and social things that mattered. With the exception of 
the very striking production of " J' Accuse," exhibited at the 
Circle Francais de la Presse Etrangere, Paris, in 1919, and the 
Westerns and comic shorts, I do not retain the memory of a 
single title of a picture that impressed me. 

In these early post-war years the American invaders poured 
in, led by the great Film Kings who formed combination after 
combination with French interests, and amalgamation after 
amalgamation to safeguard their own interests and to derive 
utmost profit from their investments. One saw their names 
combining and recombining, as at Prague, falling together in 
groups and falling apart again. It was like looking into a 
kaleidoscope and watching coloured pieces, each worth millions 
of pounds, arranging and rearranging themselves to form 
dazzling totals of Cinema Finance Capital. 

For four years, at least, the French cinema contributed 
nothing to the French ideology bred by the War. It introduced 
instead Hollywood's new fashion in " stars," and the exploita- 
tion of the ideology of the American dollar civilisation. Ameri- 
can social laws and customs, ideas of sex relations, of courtship, 
marriage and " quick-lunch " divorce and, in particular, the re- 
pulsive marriage for alimony, all determined by the greed of gold. 



92 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Such subjects did not rise out of the minds, customs and 
lives of the French people. They set a code of morals and 
manners and conduct to which the French people were tempera- 
mentally and mentally opposed. Therefore they exerted a very 
harmful influence on the large number of young people who 
saw them expressed, and who were thus led to imitate much 
that was false and foolish. 

About 1924 a change set in. Though the mixture of bad 
and mediocre, of foreign and home, of commonplace, dull, old 
and new, odds and ends, all sorts and conditions of pictures, 
was as strong and offensive as ever, a tendency towards national- 
ism could be noticed. It seemed as though France wanted to 
become France one more, and although it was powerless to 
turn out the foreign invaders, the intellectuals decided to do 
what they could to stir up French production and the making 
of the French picture. There were plenty of good men for 
the purpose, men whose outlook was French, whose feelings 
and sentiments were French, men who could be trusted to add 
the proper French flavouring to a French dish, but who were 
unemployed because of sad economic conditions, and because 
the public had not awakened from its lethargy to demand 
French subjects approached from a new point of view. The 
encouragement needed to make a fresh start was probably delayed 
by the freak character of some of the so-called " artistic " pic- 
tures coming from other parts of the Continent. In 1922 Ger- 
many was up to its neck in artistic horrors of the " Dracula " 
and " Dr. Mabuse " kind. 

In any case, the intellectuals of the Cinema began to 
assert themselves and a new wave, sociological, realistic and 
naturalistic appeared bearing on its crest the progressives with 
whose aims and achievements we in England have but lately 
become acquainted, and in a fleeting sort of way. The names 
of Feyder, Rene Clair, Renoir, l'Herbier, and Calvacanti, to 
quote but a few, are not household words in this country, but 
judges of quality set great store by their pictures. It should be 







co 



+-> <» u y 

g *»+2 w 






C C3 

-2 o 



P. y <u 






O Q< 

G * ^ »S 

•II 

. i-i G 

J X5 O 
'G OT £? ,h ° 

2 2-f - 



c* fe " 



J3 O <s-G 

y <u <-. 

>-» CO I— ( 

U ^ O 



y rG G G 



X5 a,} .C cu a 

(i) C3 -4-> bD C8* 

)-i y 

^ G 

, o.S S 

tv y - G ' 

« y £-G~ 
. u „ bo >» 

O G, cj _ W) 2 

^ M ll1 § 

. y w ,= 

.G co C^* 

o y y as Hi c 

G G-G C «■« 

^ISh G Gx! 

^^ co-S w * 

oo •- .2 G ea G 

^£?§ 

* or c (j 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 93 

noted that some of their pictures had a considerable commercial 
success. 

1925 saw the birth of the advance-guard cinema with the 
object of experimenting in ideas, some of which were no doubt 
derived from the wartime advance-guard theorists. The new 
extreme school of producers thus founded was chiefly concerned 
with analysis, stylisation, and the documentary picture. 
Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that some of its mem- 
bers were concerned with technique for technique's sake. To 
them form came first and social content came last, or not at 
all. Some sought the natural aesthetic and the light and shade 
appearance of an object. 

The advance-guard cinema was really a movement of re- 
volt, and a gesture of defiance. It was established for the 
purpose not only of producing unusual French pictures but of 
assisting the production and exhibition of unusual pictures of 
foreign origin. Naturally the Censor was opposed to the exhi- 
bition of the home-made offending pictures, and he made it 
very difficult for the insurrectionists to introduce banned foreign 
pictures. Complete censorship and sabotage ran riot. Out of 
these circumstances rose a widespread protest against censorship. 
For the past three years a war has been fought by the intellectuals 
on behalf of banned pictures especially of a revolutionary 
character. Censorship is said to prevent the spread of technical 
knowledge and social influence by means of good pictures. The 
Left French intellectuals maintain that the Censor is unusually 
and unnecessarily severe in banning pictures. To them this 
tyrannical censorship is a cause of the rotten state of the French 
cinema. If pictures, which they consider good, pictures in the 
making of which the best brains co-operated, are not allowed 
to be shown to the public it means that the public are prevented 
from enjoying good pictures, and cinema influences cannot 
be anything but bad. Briefly their charges, as summed up in 
Left journals that are strongly supporting the anti-censorship 
movement, are that there is a crisis in the French Cinema In- 

9 



94 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

dustry; that nothing is being done to develop the French 
picture; that decrees, like the Herriot one (1927) for regulating 
the importation of new foreign pictures are harmful and should 
be modified; that national protection is really for the benefit of 
the big commercial combines; and that excessive and unreason- 
able censure, of Russian, French, German, and other advance- 
guard pictures, is excessively harmful, and is having the effect 
of driving the younger and more progressive French producers 
out of France, and of keeping out the representatives of the 
young " school " of Russian producers, Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, 
Pudovkin, and others. 

These charges are the basis of an attack, not altogether 
unwarranted, on the combines comprising cinema magnates, 
bankers, newspaper owners, industrialists, who while operating 
with big American interests seek to use the French picture for 
nationalist propaganda purposes. 

According to an English Year Book, " During 1926 it has 
dawned upon the perceptions of those who have hitherto counted 
the kinema among the amusements of the masses, that the mov- 
ing picture has become the vital expression of national ideals, of 
social, domestic, and industrial problems, influencing in the 
most subtle and agreeable way, the thought, outlook and action 
of the world in matters spiritual — using the word in its broadest 
sense — as well as material. It has been realised that the moving 
picture holds within its power the most powerful propagandic 
force in the world. It influences more people than any other 
by millions, and does it through the earliest and most receptive 
channel for the most easily impressed people of all nations." 1 

It is true that by 1925 or 1926 the cinema had become a 
universal instrument of nationalist propaganda, a condition 
which, however, was not destined to last for at an International 
Cinema Congress held in Paris in the autumn of 1927, seventeen 
representatives of as many countries decided that the Cinema 
must be put to international purpose because the national one 

1 W. G. Faulkner, " The Daily Mail Year Book," 1927. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 95 

was productive of discord and war. This resolution, excellent 
as it was, is now faced by a situation arising from the demands 
of the Talkie. The language question promises to exalt 
nationalism once more. 

Returning to Paris, in 1926 I found nationalism in full 
swing. In conversation with the managing director of 
Cineromans, I learned that efforts were being made to develop 
national pictures. Subjects were being drawn from standard 
French novels, plays, stories by established writers, stories from 
newspapers, and stories written specially for the pictures to be 
published in newspapers. A feature of this period was the 
alliance between the Cinema and newpapers. The state of the 
French Cinema Industry was said to be good, 120 French pic- 
tures had been produced that year. The Cineromans Corpora- 
tion was outlining a programme of epic pictures. France has 
since had some success in the production of the big picture, 
like Abel Gance's " Napoleon," Feyder's " Carmen," 
" Casanova," and " Verdun." The latter picture when shown 
in London at the Marble Arch Pavilion was generally acclaimed 
an exceptionally fine piece of French war picture making, with 
the War itself as the protagonist. Such productions do not 
prove, however, that the plight of the French Cinema Industry 
is ended. Reliable statistics tell us that its position is any but 
a good one. In 1926, " the 75 p.c. of the 2,500 pictures shown 
in France were American." 1 In 1927, the Americans constructed 
or reconstructed in Europe 733 new cinemas of which 280 were 
in Germany, 100 in England, 90 in France. 400 pictures 
were produced in Europe, costing 16,000,000 dollars. 
Germany had 241, France 74, England 44, etc. During the 
same period America exported to Europe about 2,000 films, of 
which 723 came to England, 192 went to Germany, and 368 
went to France." 2 " Of full-length films shown in France in 
1927, the year before the Herriot decree (of protection), in 

1 W. G. Faulkner, " Daily Mail Year Book," 1927. 

2 " Monde " (Paris), No. 14, 1928. 



96 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

which the American predominance was much greater — more 
than 60 p.c. were American, 15 p.c. German, and about 13 p.c. 
French. England, Russia, and Italy each supplied between 1 
and lyi p.c." 1 " The French production in 1928-9 was not 50. 
America produced 74 great films by four Production corpora- 
tions alone." 2 " The French film production is practically non- 
existent." 3 

P. Italy 

There is not much to be said of Italy. About 1909, the 
Italian Cinema Industry was very active. It produced big scale 
national pictures in some of which as many as 10,000 figures 
appeared. Historical Italy was combed for subjects. Then 
came the War with the result that Italian production was seri- 
ously affected. Matters grew worse and worse, till finally there 
came the after-war socialist " revolution," and then the birth 
of the Fascist regime to put an end to the Italian Cinema In- 
dustry. Proposals for the rivival of the Cinema Industry on a 
national propaganda basis, resembling a sort of Fascist version 
of the Soviet Russian model, have been in the air for some time. 
But nothing of importance has been done as yet. Occasionally 
there are reports of agreements concluded between Italian firms 
and German and French, but the fact remains that only two or 
three films emerge from Turin or Milan in the course of a 
year. Italy has about 3,000 cinemas. The pictures are very 
popular and needless to say America is always the first in the 
field to supply footage of film necessary to entertain the Italian 
population. 

Q. Spain 

The Spanish Cinema Industry is, like the Soviet Russian, 
of recent growth. It is about six years old. The Cinema in 
this short time has become so popular that there are no less than 

1 " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929, p. xvi. 

2 " Monde " (Paris), No. 2. 

3 G. A. Atkinson, The Sunday Express, October 6, 1929. 



THE PERSONAL EQUATION 97 

" 286 permanent cinemas giving performances every day in the 
year, as well as 1,917 provincial theatres or halls," 1 where 
pictures are shown about six months during the year. " About 
100 films have been made, — an average of about 20 a year." 2 

Summary 

This part of my personal survey and actual experience of 
the actualities of the Cinema from 1914 till 1928 is definitely 
within the field of practical sociology. It is completed in 
chapters on Germany, England and Russia. It is a survey of 
conditions, events and cinema consequences which is not likely 
to be repeated for no one has had experiences similar to my own, 
and circumstance such as determined my experiences are not 
likely to return. I have no doubt that many persons who are 
very sceptical about the Cinema, and who refuse to believe that 
it has any good in it, will ask, " Did folk, in the wide region 
which you traversed, crushed by overwhelming disaster, or just 
rising from the ruins, derive consolation, strength and comfort 
from a little mechanical toy which has fallen into the hands of 
those who have so misused and abused it that audiences who 
witness its exhibitions rightly should wear gasmasks? " The 
answer is, "They did." It is hard to believe that everywhere 
there were analogies revealed by photographed objects, human 
and other, according to the state of mind or wish of the 
spectator. Hard to understand how audiences could discover 
in thrilling Westerns, in little melodramas, in folk tales, legends, 
sagas, the good fairies who have come to set them free from 
servitude and misery. Yet minds tortured by fear of war, revo- 
lution, of failure, of poverty, of hell on earth, can and do 
convert the living figures in pictures into the likenesses of heroes, 
saints, gods, devils, and compel their own wishes and sympathies 
to read the defeat of the evil in the ruin of human beings like 
themselves, in the action of the story. The story itself may be 

1 " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929, p. xvi. 

2 Ibid. 



98 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

one of misery, mockery and disaster, yet mental regression may 
make it something quite different. The whole magic in the 
Cinema, in the regions with which I have dealt, was put there 
by the audience. The wretched creatures who crowded into 
the awful dens in out of the way places and sat herded watch- 
ing a Western, were the picture itself. The words " the audi- 
ence is the picture itself," are words that must be learnt by 
every producer. Till all producers learn the secret of mixing 
the audience with the picture's action quite 90 p.c. of their 
energy will be wasted. 

Throughout my journey I found it was the lure of psycho- 
logical and emotional experience, the procession of social events 
and cinema consequences, kept thousands of little bankrupt 
cinemas full. Fear of attack, need of defence, advertisement, 
propaganda, building of cities and nations and citizens, the 
blending of racial units, new ideologies, the renewal of old 
ideas, the revision of values in every department of social 
thought and action, such things actuated the minds of those 
who sought in the Cinema the meaning of the difficulties and 
troubles which beset them. 

From these proofs of the traces of the Garden of Eden in 
the Cinema, I will now come to the story of Paradise lost. By 
this I mean the construction of that path which has led to the 
triumph of the bad purpose. Some will say that it is impossible 
to trace any redeeming nobility in any of the personages en- 
gaged in the building of this path and the money Babylon to 
which it has led. But I think it will be seen that the building 
of a magnificent business organisation saves them. Their genius 
is most brilliant when they show themselves to be part and 
parcel of the present Financial Age. Unconsciously they reveal 
the rottenness at the core of their own passing civilisation. 



PART II 



BUILDING HOLLYWOOD 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FABLE. THE PALACE OF GOLD AND ITS 
WINGS OF LEAD 

A. The Plan or Plot 

The denial. A powerful machine was born. It contained a 
new spirit of expression. It called for good work to be executed 
in the new spirit. But it also invited a mass of work to be 
achieved with the aid of industrial money production. And 
that called for Capital. The Business Man took possession of 
the machine. He saw it had an eye for the money production 
and investment and dividend. The Business Man has an eye 
which sees only the money production and investment and divi- 
dend. So from the beginning he saw eye to eye with the 
machine, as he thought. In so doing he denied the new spirit 
which the machine embodied. It was the spirit relating the 
machine to man. So he planned to stifle the spirit by building 
with the aid of the machine a colossal industry which should 
reach to the ends of the earth. It was to be an industry for 
manufacturing saleable commodities. The machine was to be 
the heart of a new money world, upon which should be inscribed 
Box Office. 

The Plan embodied the problem of the perfectibility of 
the commercial machine. The solution was to be dictated by 
commercial issues. 

Throughout the realm of present-day society was to be 
organised, established and encouraged a system of trading based 
on the production, distribution and consumption of the most 
saleable article. In our own epoch the most saleable article is 
Sensation, its essence and quintessence. At least so it appears 

101 



102 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to the Business Man whose eyes do not see beyond the Financial 
Age. 

The Plan demanded that the main building should have 
wings representing nations forming part of the industrial 
machine. Such wings should be built in its own style but of 
less precious metal for the purpose of applying a principle of 
unity which was to animate all the work of industrial production 
for the sake of producing money. 

The universal result should be the outcome of one state 
of mind having a special character of its own, Gold-Getting. 

The Plan then was to make the Machine an Idol of Gold, 
and the public were to burn incense to it. 

B. The Site 

The site was determined by the plan. It was a veritable 
Gold Hunter's Paradise. It was as though Nature had utilised 
all its resources to prepare a place where the Business Man could 
set down the machine and watch it grow into a marvellous 
Golden Palace of Industry. The vast problem of the penetra- 
tion of the universe with money production according to the 
needs of financially determined conditions required for its solu- 
tion a natural centre capable of generating the essential 
machinery, and offering the widest scope for systematic large- 
scale organisation, enterprise and rapid consolidation, of amal- 
gamation and of pooling of resources. Such a site the Business 
Man found in his path of inquiry. 

C. The Builders 

To this site, inviting a new industry which, rightly con- 
ceived, should overwhelm the universe with a reading of a 
passing civilisation, and furnish man with a new instrument of 
expression adapted to the Financial Age, and animated by the 
Commercial Spirit, came the Builders, The Film Kings, as they 
are called to-day. Nature had prepared the perfect site. They 



THE FABLE 103 

brought the perfect equipment of the Gold Digger. No men 
had greater capacity for business organisation, more shrewdness, 
untiring energy, diligence and thoroughness; none possessed in 
larger degree the genius of the elements of the commercial 
picture business on a money production basis. 

D. Foundations 

The foundations were securely laid according to the 
Finance Capital system. It was a system invented by some- 
one bitten by the money excesses of the Financial Age whose 
mind was incapable of distinguishing between money and sense. 
The foundations were, in fact, Financial ones mixed up with 
investment and dividend, the elements of The Great Gamble. 
In order to secure them, financiers, bankers, and men of great 
wealth were invited to throw in bags of gold so that this terri- 
tory could be put on the market as a gold-yielding one in which 
everybody could be invited to take shares by throwing down 
more bags of gold out of which would grow bags of gold to 
repay the throwers for their courage. The foundations were, 
in fact, laid on the principle of money production. 

E. Materials 

My acquaintance with sociology leads me to believe that 
the raw materials grew inevitably and logically out of the 
natural surroundings. They were in order, natural, vital, and 
human. There was the perfect wilderness, the perfect and 
amazingly varied surroundings of sea, forest, mountain, and so 
on, the perfect climate, the perfect light, that powerful god 
of the moving picture. There were the multitudinous 
mechanical occupations that these fostered, materials that might 
have formed a world transforming Palace of Industry if only 
the conception of scientific humanism had been given pride of 
place instead of scientific commercialism. Then there were the 
human materials, — the human beings of all races that were 



io 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

attracted by the occupations from all parts of the earth to form 
a new race, or so it seems, to feed the Machine, and to enable 
it to be seen at its best as a Box Office. 

Place — Work — Folk, so the latest sociological formula runs. 
All occupations have a geographical origin; all workers have 
had an occupational origin. When that formula is recognised 
and properly applied, the troubles of the old world will cease. 
In the beginning were Nature and Labour; in the end will be 
Nature and Labour; to-day Chaos. In the beginning Hollywood 
was Nature and Labour. It was a new world of occupation 
and men. If it had been ruled by enlightened unselfishness it 
would have helped the human race to a heaven. It has been 
ruled by unenlightened selfishness which has promoted only 
Money Production and Financial Investment. 

F. The Structure 

The structure was determined by the materials and mass- 
production. In every field of the new Industry there were 
financial problems to solve, and new tools had to be fashioned 
to re-solve them. Thus the history of the Industrial Palace of 
Gold is the history of the attempt to attain the perfectibility of 
the Commercial Machine by means of organisation, produc- 
tion, distribution and penetration, and consumption, both in 
detail and mass on that immense scale which the undertaking 
has, to the present, been carried out. We see the mighty Holly- 
wood building rapidly unfolding itself, and the war years, and 
the after-war years, bringing it new world conquests which 
have given the main construction a greater capacity for expan- 
sion and change. There have been two or three " revolutions." 
Two or three phases of money and mass-production. 

G. Content 

Content was determined by the function of the building. 
It was a building capable of applying industrial and business 



THE FABLE 105 

science to the Cinema. The content was to be that suitable for 
a great Selling Mart. Whatever the earth had of Sensation 
must be passed into the machinery, converted into the perfect 
money-making entertainment and sold to the " mass." Hence 
came the ransacking of the Great War Field, of the sensational 
sphere of Sex, of the thrilling universe of Crime. Then came 
the mass-production of War, Sex and Crime pictures. And 
then the wholesale and retail selling of The War, of The Sexual 
Madness, of The Blackest Page of Social Crime in human his- 
tory. The War which cost so many millions of lives fetched 
billions of pounds. The next war will be a more profitable 
investment if only it is properly organised to sell. The last one 
was a catch-as-catch-can affair. Anyone who could turn a pro- 
jection handle, or spill ink on paper or smudge a canvas, made 
a profit out of it. The more lies, the more profit. 

But what has been said above must not be taken as a re- 
flection upon the character of the Great Business Men who set 
the Commercial Film a-rolling. Unintentionally they have done 
some good. In ransacking the Jungle of War, the Sex and 
Crime Weeds, they have unconsciously brought to light, or 
rather they have expressed through the Cinema, some of the 
ideas of the new race of scientists who are exploring the world 
of knowledge and achievement to-day. Unintentionally they 
have exhibited living photographs of the secrets of sexology, of 
warology, or criminology, those gems of thought of the early 
twentieth century of which the Mass is so unaware that 
when it goes to see, say, a Valentino picture, it sees all the 
external signs of an overwhelming erotic emotion, without know- 
ing what they mean. It catches glimpses of mysteries forming 
the key of its emotion. The Mass is much better off than 
the Censor, for he sees nothing in the unashamed portrayal of the 
sexual act. He is not aware of it. Such then, and so formed, 
are the materials for the Fairy Tale of How the Business Man 
Built Hollywood. Let me next describe the actualities. 



CHAPTER V 

ACTUALITIES 

A. The Plan 

In Chapter 3, I have sought to trace the analogy between the 
Bible story of Man and the two purposes, and the Cinema and 
the two purposes, bad and good, or the spirit of acquisitiveness, 
and of service suited to the best purpose of the Age. And I have 
suggested that the Cinema, like Man, has been put to the first. 
To-day the service asked of the Cinema is sociological expres- 
sion. I produced evidence based on personal observation in sup- 
port of my contention that rightly considered the Cinema is an 
instrument of social (or sociological) expression. It is peculiarly 
suited to contribute to the study of, and to initiate into, the 
truth of the life of a human community, and to reflect the social 
world in all its aspects on the largest scale. I showed that this 
evidence had been supplied not by any intention on the part of 
the men who control the Cinema world, but by human beings 
who at moments of great crisis have sought to read their wishes 
and desires into the material objects contained in the pictures. 
In this way social values have leapt out, only to be suppressed 
again as prosperity swelled the flood of commercialism. 

The present section is designed to follow more closely the 
architectural plan of the book, a plan which, it seems to me, is 
calculated to enable the reader to see the parts and the whole of 
a mammoth growth, such as the Cinema undoubtedly is, more 
clearly, and to realise that it is a material and financial one from 
beginning to end determined by the present-day material and 
financial state of mind as symbolised by the craving for financial 
investment, dividends and wholesale gambling, those vortices of 

106 



ACTUALITIES 107 

Mammon which so strongly characterise the spirit of the age. 

In the following chapters I shall sketch the actualities of 
plan, policy and methods which have produced the Cinema City 
called Hollywood. Hollywood is treated as an architectural 
construction with its related forms, English, German, Russian, 
etc., processes of building, and organisation similar to those of a 
great twentieth-century business store. To-day This Cinema 
Holy of Holies practically rules the world. 

Above its portals is written : " The Cinema is mightier than 
the Press." And " By Sales it Rules the Earth." 



In future days, when historians come to ask which were 
the two Gods (or Demons) of the Earth in the early twentieth 
century, that most intensely fixed men's attention and excited 
their thoughts, I think the answer will be Moscow and Holly- 
wood. To some persons to-day such an association may appear 
fanciful. They will tell you that while Hollywood is healthy, 
virile, active, balanced and useful in its way, Moscow has none 
of these attributes. We may take that to be a matter of opinion. 
The fact that stands out and cannot be denied is that both centres 
of human activity have during the early part of the twentieth 
century received more attention, invited more criticism and com- 
ment than any other centre, Berlin not excepted. Take away 
the news and views which they have set flowing in the Press of 
all countries for, say, ten years past, and the newspapers and 
journals of the world would appear half empty. They hold 
the record for long distance Press running since the dark shadow 
of the Peace Treaty fell upon the earth, and rightly should share 
the medal for conspicuous ability in capturing space in our 
daily and weekly news-sheets. 

They have many resemblances, but I will not work them 
to death. Both are the children of revolution, the one social, 
the other mechanical. Both denote a change of civilisation, 
the one of an associative character, the other of a scientific and 



io8 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

mechanical one. Both prophesy the coming of methods of inter- 
pretation raised to a higher level than hitherto. Both are tools 
of their time. Both move with the spirit of the age. Both are 
full of sociological possibilities. Both are capable of playing a 
significant part in a creative civilisation. And so on. There are 
many differences. The most important and the only one that 
need be mentioned here is that while Hollywood was founded 
in money production, the New Moscow rejected this foundation. 
While the one accepted a slave ideal, the other accepted the ideal 
of Marxian liberation. 

Let me give an illustration of the kind of magnet that 
Hollywood has become and how it attracts explorers and 
pilgrims and seekers after fame, to say nothing of worshippers 
of the Golden Calf, from the uttermost ends of the earth, many 
of whom set forth their impressions of the Magic City in pictures 
and impressions for which the World's Press pays something 
like a million pounds an inch. 

I have before me a pile of newspaper articles on Holly- 
wood. I shall mention a few of the headlines taken at random. 
These will suggest the pictures and impressions of those who 
have explored everything, — the representatives of every human 
race drawn together as by a magnet, the Stars in their courses 
and in stucco palaces, in their anything but moth-eaten boudoirs 
(except after the Wall Street crash), their bits of architecture of 
every imaginable school, their gilded lives and restaurants and 
night haunts, their baby minds, their moments of disillusion 
and unemployment, their healthy and happy lives on the golden 
sands of the seashore where their chief occupations are the cult 
of the nude and experiments in sluggishness. Everything about 
them is told for the delectation of the millions who dream afar 
off of Hollywood as the quintessence of Paradise. 

" Peter Pan Township Of The Films," by Mr. Winston 
Churchill. (How the English Statesman sees Hollywood). 1 " A 
Picture of Hollywood," by Mr. St. John Ervine. (How the Eng- 

i The Daily Telegraph, December 30, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 109 

lish dramatic critic sees it through the eyes of an " American 
author of wide repute," whose style and views remind one of 
those of the adorable Mr. Mencken.) 1 " Hollywood's ' Brilliant 
Inanity '," by Mr. Arthur Weigall. (How the English archaeo- 
logist sees it). 2 " The White Slaves Of Hollywood," by P. G. 
Wodehouse. (How the " famous " humourist sees it). 3 " Holly- 
wood's Fallen Idols and The New," by Alice M. Williamson. 
(How a novelist sees it). 1 " Film Stars Must Be Tempera- 
mental," by Mr. Charles Whittaker. (How a producer sees it). 5 
; ' The mysterious Pola Negri ... is credited by rumour with 
possessing a temperament so devastating that before her arrival 
in England (1929) people spoke of it in hushed tones." " But," 
continues Mr. Whittaker, " she was so angel-like in Cornwall 
that the children got to calling her Auntie Pola." (Those 
children !) " Hollywood Has Got Old-Fashioned," by Iris Barry. 
(How the film critic of the Daily Mail sees its methods and con- 
ditions). 6 " Studio Murder Mystery." (How the strange morals 
in the Hollywood studios are seen and exposed by the pro- 
ducer). 7 " My Lonely Life at Hollywood," by Pauline Frederick. 
(How an early star sees it). 8 " What I Saw At Hollywood," by 
Lady Diana Cooper. (How the Madonna in " The Miracle " 
sees it). " Lady Diana, who is the third daughter of the 8th 
Duke of Rutland, has just returned from America. . . . Dur- 
ing her visit there she went to Hollywood, met all the stars of 
the moving picture world, and saw them at work and at play." 9 
Her point of view of the " stars " is quite Madonna-like. 
" From a Window in Hollywood," by Harold Brighouse. 
(How a playwright sees it.) 10 



1 The Observer, June 16, 1929. 

2 The Daily Express, November 11, 1929. 

3 The Daily Mail, December 6, 1929. 

4 The Evening Neivs, August 29, 1929. 

5 The Daily Mail, September 9, 1929. 

6 The Daily Mail, December 12, 1928. 

7 The Daily Mail, August 18, 1929. 

8 The Daily Express, April 17, 1927. 

9 The Weekly Dispatch, April 4, 1927. 

i° The Manchester Guardian, June 12, 1929. 



no THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

The Plan, determined by the plot, to make the Little 
Black Box the greatest money-making machine worked by the 
Gods of Wall Street, did not originate with the pioneers who 
ruined their health and pockets in striving to make the camera 
beget the living photograph. Nor with the producers in Cali- 
fornia who made the first one and two reelers. The commercial 
possibilities of the Cinema were not apparent from the outset. 
It was not till 1910 that the first " Gold Rush " took place. 
According to an article, " The March Of Ambition," " Some 
thirty years ago the foundations were laid in America of the 
greatest entertainment and educational industry in the world, 
the moving picture industry. In those days (about 1889), how- 
ever, few people looked upon it as an industry and fewer still 
as a great one. It was simply a good joke. Such an attitude 
did not last long, for the film industry progressed at an alarming 
rate, alarming because the makers of pictures found it hard to 
satisfy the demand which arose quite suddenly. Ten years after 
its inception (about 1900) the industry was firmly established 
as a feature of modern existence, a feat which no other industry 
has or could ever achieve. As the early years of the twentieth 
century slipped by, cinemas appeared like mushrooms all over 
the world." 1 " When the film companies, drawn by the lure 
of sunshine and a semi-tropical climate, began coming to 
Southern California, some eighteen years ago (1910), they settled 
in various and scattered parts of Los Angeles. There was at 
first little or no community spirit among them. . . . But in 
time, following the lead of Universal and Christie Brothers, and 
influenced perhaps by the geniality of the climate, they adopted 
Hollywood, the north-western section of Los Angeles, as a 
common location for their studios, and thus sowed the seed of 
the formal business association that now binds them together 
in one general, harmonious body, under the title of the Motion 
Picture Producers and Distributors of America." 2 There was 

1 " Fox News," May 13, 1929. 

2 Clifford Howard in " Close Up," November, 1928. 



ACTUALITIES in 

a sequence of events all of which pointed to the drawing up of 
the Plan. Production activities increased, business expanded 
enormously, pictures improved, actors took off their 
masks and revealed their identity, the money-grabbing public dis- 
covered the new field of investment in their midst, the Press 
adopted the Little Wonder, the first reviews appeared (1908), and 
scenario writers began to descend on the gold-bearing region 
like flies. From this it is easy to gather what the Plan was, 
namely, the generator of the vast money production building. 
" Reasons for the universal predominance of the American pic- 
ture include the advantages derived from the greater investments 
of capital." 1 

B. Site 

The Plan generated the vastest piece of money-making 
machinery the world has ever known. It did not generate the 
Site. Nature generated that. The Site matured the Plan. It 
was the geographical origin of the Industry and People, and as 
such, a factor that helped the Plan to be realised, and in a way 
that helped the American Film Kings inevitably to dominate 
the world's Cinema market. 

The Site was not the supreme thing that gave these Money 
Lords of to-day the power to rule the Cinema world. The 
power of world rulership was conferred on the Picture Makers 
of Hollywood by Capital and Organisation. In these two 
essentials they excelled, and by their aid they succeeded in routing 
the unorganised and unfinanced bodies. 

In Hollywood they found a surface for their utilitarian 
and profit-making needs. It was peculiarly suited to the 
grandeur of the idea of mass-production and industrial organisa- 
tion. It was suitable for a Cinema City outlay, for factories, 
large stores, dwellings, and for the construction of streets fitted 
for Cinema purpose. 

1 John D. Tippett in " The Cinema." 1917. 



ii2 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

But above all it had natural surroundings of unequalled 
variety, and of great beauty, probably that no site in any other 
country possessed. They were an extremely valuable asset to 
the picture makers, for they provided every kind of outdoor 
scenery they required. I do not know whether there exists a 
regional survey of the part of California to which Hollywood 
belongs. But if there is one, it must offer a wonderful example 
of a natural Cinema Centre in which all the geographical 
features necessary to its industrial life combine. 

Within the past few years a good many impressions of 
Hollywood and its natural surroundings have, as already pointed 
out, been written by visitors who have approached it from 
different points of view. Some for the purpose of examining the 
chief activities which have brought Hollywood to the notice of 
the whole world. Some to observe the new population, its 
mode of life, its mind, its morals, its religion, its recreations, 
its education, and so on. But all alike have been struck by its 
natural advantages of climate, light, air, sea, shore, hills, vegeta- 
tion, forests, mountains, lakes, that make the Los Angeles-Holly- 
wood district the joy of the sociologist, of the colony of eugenic 
kings and beauty queens, of the Film Over-lords, of the extrava- 
gantly overpaid and domineering personnel, and of the pleasure- 
seeking visitors. 

Mr. Winston Churchill, the English stateman, is one of 
the visitors who was much impressed by the diverse uses to 
which it can be put. After " following from north to south 
the great road which runs the entire length of California," he 
arrived at Hollywood, which he describes briefly as follows: 
" The second staple industry is found in the films associated 
with Hollywood. Here we enter a strange and an amusing 
world, the like of which has certainly never been seen before. 
Dozens of studios, covering together thousands of acres, and 
employing scores of thousands of very highly-paid performers 
and technicians, minister to the gaiety of the world. It is like 
going behind the scenes of a theatre magnified a thousand-fold. 



ACTUALITIES 113 

Battalions of skilled workmen construct with magical quickness 
streets of London, of China, of India, jungles, mountains, and 
every conceivable form of scenery in solid and comparatively 
durable style. In a neighbouring creek pirate ships, Spanish 
galleons and Roman galleys ride at anchor. This Peter Pan 
township is thronged with the most odd and varied of crowds 
that can be imagined. Here is a stream of South Sea Islanders, 
with sweet little nut-brown children, hurrying to keep their 
studio appointments. There is a corps-de-ballet which would 
rival the Moulin Rouge. Ferocious brigands, bristling with pro- 
perty pistols, cowboys, train robbers, heroines in distress of all 
descriptions, aged cronies stalk or stroll or totter to and fro. 
Twenty films are in the making at once. A gang of wild Circas- 
sian horsemen filters past a long string of camels from a desert 
caravan. Keen young men regulate the most elaborate processes 
of photography, and the most perfect installation for bridling 
light and sound. Competition is intense; the hours of toil are 
hard, and so are the hours of waiting. Youthful beauty claims 
her indisputable rights; but the aristocracy of filmland found 
themselves on personality. It is a factory in appearance the 
queerest in the world, whose principal characteristics are hard 
work, frugality and discipline." 1 

It is worthy of note that he was not impressed by the 
Talkie as the concluding lines of his article suggest : " Alone 
among producers Charlie Chaplin remains unconverted, claim- 
ing that pantomime is the genius of drama, and that the imagina- 
tion of the audience supplies better words than machinery can 
render, and prepared to vindicate the silent film by the glittering 
weapons of wit and pathos. 

" On the whole, I share his opinion." 2 

Another impression of a different character is given by 
Mr. Arthur Weigall, archaeologist, antiquarian, scene designer, 
dramatic critic, novelist, etc. He is concerned with the life and 

1 The Daily Telegraph, December 30, 1929. 

2 Ibid. 



H4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

manners of the people to whom Hollywood has actually given 
birth. His description of the pictorial beauty of the surround- 
ings, which they have projected from themselves, is full of 
glow. He sees " to the south and west the whole vast expanse 
of the city and its suburbs, including Beverly Hills, built upon 
the wide plain between the mountains and the sea, — resident 
Hollywood and Beverly Hills as artists' visions materialised, the 
dreams of poets come true." And he sees that in this " miracle 
city, as the real estate salesmen call it, the great miracle is that 
it harbours, and somehow conceals, the most reckless set of 
delightful lunatics to be found anywhere in the world." He 
illustrates this view with descriptions of orgies and sheer in- 
anities that simply take the breath away. But the point of 
capital interest, capital in more ways than one, is contained in 
the following extract : " Miles upon miles of charming sun- 
bathed residences, gorgeous gardens, stately avenues, polished 
roads — a paradise of art and culture; such is the first impression 
one obtains of this park-like seat of the film colony. It is a 
marvel conjured out of the barren wilderness by the sorcery of 
money; it is America's most shining example of what civilisa- 
tion can do when the dollars roll in, and artists, architects and 
decorators are given a free hand. 

" Soon one discovers that not many of the owners of 
these wonderful homes could themselves have planned or 
furnished them; and, indeed, the majority of the occupants are 
like pretty birds in gilded cages, not in the least able to appreciate 
the difference between one style of decoration and another. 

" Residential Hollywood and Beverly Hills are artists' 
visions materialised, the dreams of poets come true. Water 
has been brought into a wilderness, and the desert has been 
made to blossom like the rose." 1 

The sorceries of money are responsible for the artificial, 
human and other aspects. It is literally true that " the desert 
has been made to blossom like the rose." The site of " the 

1 The Daily Express, November 7, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 115 

city where the kings and queens of this new world take their 
ease upon their own estates," 1 was once a desert. If it be true 
that once upon a time the red men sold New York for twenty- 
four dollars, which in turn has bought and sold men and their 
wares into the millions of millions," 2 it is probably true that the 
red men gave the Hollywood site away, or simply left it to be 
discovered by white men who bought and sold Cinema wares 
for millions and millions. It was a desert annexe of Los Angeles 
of approximately four miles square. No one dreamed that it 
was a gold bearing land potentially overflowing with Cinema 
and money, a surface concealing mines and millionaires. 
Probably the first explorer who looked down upon this waste 
from the Beverly Hills turned from it with contempt as a 
desolate region fit only for savages. " Gold," he may have 
exclaimed. " There's not enough to fill the hollow of a small 
tooth." He little thought that the land he jeered at was sooner 
or later to yield billions of pounds. 

It is said that the commercial Gold-Rush in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hollywood began in 19 10. Producing companies 
were attracted by the sunshine and natural lighting conditions, 
and though at first weakened and separated by rivalry later 
they came together and found strength in unity. " Carl 
Laemmle blazed the trail for motion picture producers and he 
alone had the vision to see the industry as it is to-day. When 
in 1915 Laemmle established Universal city on the West coast, 
he was the first motion picture producer Hollywood 
bound." 3 

So arose the Cinema Babylon, under the guidance of men 
who were not in pursuit of an architectural idea, but were guided 
by the industrial and financial necessities which they themselves 
produced, mainly the need of satisfying the enormous demand 
for sensational entertainment. Following Carl Laemmle's 

1 Lady Diana Cooper in The Weekly Dispatch, April 4, 1927. 

2 " New York," by Ethel Fleming, quoted by The Observer, November 
3, 1929. 

3 " Universal Pictures Souvenir," 1929. 



n6 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

initiative came other " movie towns," " cities " little worlds in 
which sections of the strange new population moved and had 
their being. There came the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Com- 
pany's " the world with a fence round it — within the fence 
one can wander at will through the streets of London, New 
York, Cape Town, or Pekin. — It covers an area of 68 acres. 
There are 15 stages with a total space of 240,823 square feet, 
where the interior settings for the 54 films issued yearly are 
erected. — Within the fence there are ten miles of cemented 
streets." 1 Then there is the Fox Movietone city, the particulars 
of which would fill a small book. And there are the new 
" hustle " cities, massive and imposing, including the Warner 
Brothers enterprise, The First National Pathe extensive allot- 
ment at Burbank, the whole or considerable extensions of which 
have been called forth by the Talkie. 

C. The Builders 

Who were the builders of the New State? Business men. 
Men of low estate to begin with but with immense commercial 
ambitions. Holding aloft the symbol of the box office they 
descended one after the other upon the Eldorado of their Cinema 
dreams. There was William Fox who " entered the film busi- 
ness in 1904 as a theatre manager of a * Penny Arcade.' " 2 " Carl 
Laemmle who was at one time employed in various clerical and 
executive positions in clothing and jewellery business." 3 
" Samuel Goldwyn, who before entering the picture business 
was in the glove business." 4 : ' Joseph M. Schenck whose pre- 
vious career was druggist at Chinatown, New York." 5 " Adolph 
Zukor was engaged in the fur trade till 1903, when he and 
Marcus Loew started a ' Penny Arcade ' company." 6 And later 

1 " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929. 

2 « The Film Weekly," November 18, 1929. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Ibid. 

5 IUd. 
e Ibid. 



ACTUALITIES 117 

there were the Warner Brothers, all four with humble begin- 
nings. " Harry M. Warner. Early career, bookkeeper and 
salesman; entered bicycle business with brothers." 1 To-day 
Warner Brothers are Cinema Magnates of the first order. 
: ' Warner Brothers announce that their net profits for 1929 will 
reach ^3,200,000. " 2 The latest Kings are those of the Western 
Electric company and its subsidiary companies. There is for 
instance " Joseph P. Kennedy, Chairman of the Radio Corpora- 
tion of America. Early career was banking and shipbuilding." 3 
The Western Electric Corporation Kings promise to dominate 
the whole world, since it is their Talkie apparatus that is invad- 
ing cinemas of all countries. 

D. Foundations 

Like good business men the early Builders did not fail to 
lay the foundation of the Cinema Babylon with solid gold. And 
the story of these first speculators in a virgin field is probably 
the story of men who staked all in the wild scramble to gain 
control of the industry in order to have sole right of selling 
Cinema commodities to the 2,000,000,000 human inhabitants of 
the earth and thereby to pocket a large share of the world's 
income of ^33,500,000,000 a year. Starting almost penni- 
less, as time went on they penetrated to the heart 
of the money world. How deeply involved they became 
in big finance, the Wall Street crash of 1929 can 
show. Says a London Cinema trade journal, " An announce- 
ment of outstanding importance is made this week in 
our advertising columns. It sets forth a complete and power- 
ful aggregation of box office requirements offered by the com- 
bined force of Warner Brothers and First National-Pathe. Here 
is a combination of which the dimensions have never been sur- 
passed in cinema history. As a source of everything required to 

1 « The Film weekly," November 18, 1929. 

2 Ibid. 

3 ibid. 



n8 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

make a complete programme these firms stand in an unequalled 
position. Backed by the greatest resources in the world, guided 
by economic and showman principles, headed by men whose 
names have long been associated with progress, and possessing a 
long record of success, they form a combination which merits 
confidence." 1 An instructive suggestion of policy and method. 
The resources are of course chiefly financial ones. This 
organisation is stated to be a world-wide one. 

The process of cementing the Hollywood foundations with 
Finance Capital is illustrated by the careers of Warner Brothers 
and William Fox. In 1903 the four Warner Brothers, one of 
whom is described as a " born showman," gave up running 
" small businesses," bicycle, shoe-repairing, and others, to set 
up " a projector in a store in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. They 
furnished it with 91 chairs rented from an undertaker; and it 
became one of the hundreds of motion picture theatres that 
opened its doors during that winter of 1903-1904." " The 
Warner Brothers got two changes of programme a week for 
40 dollars." In 1925 we find them working hand in hand with 
bankers. " When Harry had gone to the bankers and for the 
first time had gotten outside capital, he raised 2,000,000 dollars 
from stock to finance his ' agents ' on a larger scale for the 
new contracts that then had to be made." Then follow the 
transactions with bankers over the purchase of Vitagraph. He 
asked for an advance of capital and " finally got 4,000,000 
dollars." " They, Warner Brothers, went into frenzied produc- 
tion on the coast." In 1929, Harry Warner is described as 
" the head of the 500,000,000 dollar corporation." Thus Warner 
Brothers who in 1903 were spending 40 dollars weekly on two 
programmes, were in 1929 making a profit of ^3,000,000 a year, 
advertising themselves by means of broadcasting stations of their 
own, the first of which they bought " second-hand — in Los 
Angeles in 1924," and entering into big contracts with the 
Western Electric Company, " the electrical parent of the 

1 " The Cinematograph Times," August 31, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 119 

Talkies " that is now sweeping the world with its 
apparatus and amalgamation schemes. 1 So much for Warner 
Brothers. 

Now for William Fox, probably one of the most daring 
and speculative Film Kings Hollywood has known. Fox was a 
business man in a small way who transferred his activities to 
the Cinema. Like his fellow get-rich-quick Film Kings, he 
made a humble start. Like them he has struggled for first 
place and world control of the Cinema Industry. But for the 
Wall Street Crash there is little doubt that he would have got 
it. He was affected by this crash which caused him to have a 
serious set-back, and at the beginning of 1930 he appeared 
with his back to the wall fighting his creditors. His 
career and its check by the biggest Stock Exchange gambling 
collapse in history will no doubt be considered sufficiently im- 
portant to include in the thrilling story of Film Finance which 
will be written one of these days. This catastrophe reveals how 
closely the Cinema Industry is bound up with Finance Capital, 
the operations of Wall Street and our own Stock Exchange, and 
how it is determined by the various movements of the great 
heart of the money market. Money production determines the 
Industry. 

' William Fox, the multi-millionaire, head of the Fox Film 
Company, one of the biggest moving picture organisations in 
the world, twenty-five years ago was the proprietor of a small 
cinema in New York, and there he showed as his first picture 
1 The Great Train Robbery.' He stared work at the age of 
fifteen and earned ^1 per week. William Fox's enterprises, 
which include film producing, distributing and exhibiting, are 
valued to-day at more than ^40,000,000. 

; ' Within five years after Fox had started his one small 

cinema he possessed twenty, and had earned ^50,000. In 1913, 

the Fox Film Corporation was formed, and by 1917 the original 

capital had been paid for out of profits, and to-day the Corpora- 

1 a rpjjg Y\\m Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 



120 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tion has offices in every principal city in the world, and it con- 
trols over 800 cinemas in America alone. The Fox Companies 
have more than 12,000 people on their weekly salary list. 

" His new talkie studio, which was built at a cost of 
^2,000,000, is one of the most up-to-date in the world. He 
has taken a foremost place in talking film production, and is 
known as a man who possesses great pioneer qualities. 

" His latest progressive plan is the establishment of ' Gran- 
deur ' pictures, of which he gave a demonstration on a wide 
screen in New York recently." 1 

A newspaper headline : t " Fox's ^50,000,000 deal. His 
1,000 theatres. Started with a penny peepshow." 2 A news 
item, " Gaumont-British and a prospective London purchaser." 
" Several months ago, Mr. William Fox, acting personally, made 
arrangements to purchase a large block of Gaumont-British 
ordinary shares. The amount involved was roughly ^1,250,000, 
and the purchase when complete would have resulted in Mr. 
Fox in person acquiring a controlling interest in the British 
undertaking." 3 Owing to the Wall Street Crash the purchase 
was never completed. " The position now is that the final 
instalment which falls due at the end of this month, January, 
1930, cannot be met, at least by Mr. Fox who is busily engaged 
defending himself against his American creditors. We under- 
stand, however, on reliable authority, that a prominent London 
financier may step into the breach and meet the amount due. 
In that event, control of the company would pass into his 
hands."' Since, Fox has been bought out of the Corporation 
which he established, for ^5,000,000. 

A very important chapter could be written on the subject 
of enthroning the financiers and bankers at Hollywood. They 
are, as I have indicated, the main support of the Builders. 

1 " The Film Weekly," November 11, 1929. 

2 The Daily Express, March 6, 1929. 

3 The Evening Standard, January 21, 1929. See also The Sunday 
Referee, June 15, 22, 1930, for Gaumont-Fox Mystery. 

* Ibid. 



ACTUALITIES 121 

Notice the last line of the news item just quoted. Notice, too, 
this headline, " Hollywood Makes Love To London Bankers." 1 
Again, "Hollywood and Wall Street." "The Wall Street 
Crash has affected Hollywood very seriously. There will be a 
cessation of productions for about four months. Owing to the 
crash, bankers and financiers are unable to provide money." 2 
' Wall Street bankers shown to have tremendous hold over 
American film industry." 3 It is not difficult to understand why 
the bankers, some of them the heads of big banking corporations 
are so ready to finance the Cinema Industry as represented by 
four or Rwe immense combines. Here is a reason. " The 
capital invested in the world's Cinema Industry to-day amounts 
approximately to ^800,000,000, about half of which belongs to 
the United States where the industry takes third place, coming 
after foodstuffs" and motors. Britain has ^70,000,000 invested 
in the trade, and one big German firm 5 has a capital of 
^2,250,000. There are 57,000 cinemas in the world. American 
cinemas can accommodate 100,000,000 people." 4 " The cinemas 
of America realise an annual receipt of 730 million dollars, 85 
p.c. of the films of the entire world are produced in the U.S.A. 
The annual production budget is 175 million dollars, that of 
propaganda, 67 million dollars. This represents 2,500 films 
of which 98 p.c. are produced at Hollywood. 70,000 persons 
are employed in production, and 350,000 in the general cine- 
matography industry." 5 Not to control this flow of investment 
no doubt would, in the eyes of bankers and financiers, be to 
forfeit immense profit. 

From the effect of the Wall Street Crash on Hollywood 
Stars, it may perhaps be gathered that, financially speaking, the 
bankers practically owned some of these vastly overpaid persons. 
At any rate, the latter were heavy stock-holders. A " film fan " 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Daily Express, September 9, 1929. 

2 The Sunday Referee, December 15, 1929. 

3 » The Film Weekly," January, 1929. 

4 The Evening News, December 13, 1929. Quoted from " The Inter- 
national Labour Bureau Statistics," Geneva, a Preserved food, h U.F.A. 

s " Monde " (Paris), July 14, 1928. 



122 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

journal draws a pathetic picture of these .£150,000 a year folk 
selling their fur coats, saloon cars, jewellery, and the rest of 
their belongings. Miss Pola Negri is reported to have sold her 
castle in France. 

In one of the Year Books published by the leading 
cinema trade journals in this country, there is an article by 
a writer who " ventures the opinion that 1925 will be remem- 
bered as the year when the motion-picture business entered 
the ranks of the ' big American Businesses.' . . . He has 
before him a list of stock quotations and checks neatly in pencil 
of those issues which deal in motion pictures." Among them 
is, " The Fox Film Corporation, Pathe Exchange Corporation, 
and Warner Brothers. He argues that the industry has at 
last come into its own. The year had developed ample recog- 
nition from banks and financial institutions whose names em- 
brace the kingpins of the entire American Financial structure. 
In such company as General Motors, United States 
Steel and International Harvester, one now finds the principal 
film companies such as Famous Players, First National, Metro- 
Goldwyn, Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers." He gives 
startling instances of Wall Street seizing opportunities of float- 
ing cinema issues, of obtaining capital from the American in- 
vesting public for new enterprises. At the moment, the lead- 
ing cinema corporations had big building programmes and 
money was needed to enable them to carry them out. Bankers 
and financiers were called upon to see them through. Their 
eager response illustrates the writer's argument. 1 

The following news story is an instructive comment on 
what happens to the Film King who rests his plan of cinema 
development on the financial assistance to be obtained from Wall 
Street and banking affiliations. It is headed " Film Magnate on 
His Crash." " Mr. W. Fox ' Doomed by Wall Street Gods.' " 
It comes from a New York correspondent : 

" Minority shareholders in the Fox Film Corporation are 

1 " The Kineniatograph Year Book," 1920. 



ACTUALITIES 123 

filing petitions, which are to be heard this week, for the appoint- 
ment of a receiver. 

" In one petition Mr. William Fox and ten other defendants 
are charged with ' mismanagement and maladministration ' 
resulting in ' serious and threatening financial difficulties.' 

" In another, filed to-day by Mrs. Susie Dryden Kuser, of 
New Jersey, four main allegations are made. These are that 
Mr. Fox bought 440,000 shares of Loews Inc. at 225 dollars when 
the market price was 70 dollars; that he bought a string of 
English theatres, paying about ^3,800,000 for them when he 
had not as much as even seen them, but the film company under 
his direction lent ^3,400,000 to the Fox Theatres Corporation, 
thus impairing the working capital; that Mr. Fox, while specu- 
lating with the company's money, devoted all his time to watch- 
ing quotations and neglected the affairs of his organisation; 
and that he suffered heavy losses. 

" Mrs. Kuser asks for an injunction preventing the officers 
of the corporation from paying Mr. Fox any salary. 

" Mr. Fox, in a letter to the stockholders, says that he will 
fight to the end. He declares that ' the gods of Wall Street 
proclaimed my doom. Nothing on earth could prevent this 
great money machine from mowing me down.' 

" He explains that his plan was to secure as nearly as possible 
a controlling interest in one of the most successful picture 
organisations in the world, and also to get a strong foothold in 
England by the purchase of a substantial interest in the largest 
of the English picture organisations. 

" After a motoring accident which kept him in hospital 
for three months he approached the banks and those associated 
with him in the creation of short-term obligations, but was coldly 
informed that it was each man for himself. 

' There was afterwards presented to him what he believed 
now to have been a cleverly concocted scheme, in the form of a 
friendly gesture, by which he was to place the control of the 
companies he headed in the hands of friends who would see 



124 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

that all his problems were solved. He assented to this arrange- 
ment, but 48 hours later he found that it was not a scheme to 
help him but that he had placed himself in the hands of those 
who were determined to make capital out of his difficulties. 

"M resisted,' Mr. Fox proceeds, ' this attempt at destruc- 
tion with all my strength of mind and body, with the result that 
I found myself arrayed against the most powerful forces in the 
financial world. No matter where I turned, every door was 
closed to me. Banking friends secretly told me they wanted 
to help but dared not, as to come to my assistance at this time 
would bring down on their heads the resentment and enmity 
of the most powerful forces on Wall Street.' 

" Mr. Fox concludes with an appeal to the stockholders to 
purchase for their own protection his proposed short-term note 
issue of ^7,000,000. "' 

E. Material 

Next to the money with which the Wall Street founda- 
tions of Hollywood have been laid, comes the material out of 
which have been manufactured the machinery, and the life of 
the cinema, that is, commercial, not humanist one. It con- 
sists of ingredients which are mixed by the Film Kings in an 
attractive entertainment manner to appeal to the Mass 
according to the basic emotion determined by the circumstances 
of the hour, and in obedience to the necessity of defeating each 
other in the battle for world supremacy. 

The Film Kings make no secret of the fact that they are 
pastrycooks engaged in making commercial tit-bits and selling 
them in the best market. They try to make the best of the 
matter. They claim that they buy the best available materials 
and commodities that money can procure; that, like Satan, they 
employ (or buy) the best cooks, organisers, technicians, sales- 
men, directors, producers, scenario and story writers, players, 

1 London Evening Newspaper, January, 1930. 



ACTUALITIES 125 

talents of every kind and the public moods suited to their pur- 
pose, that of money production and box office values. 

From this we may reasonably expect fare of exceptional 
merit. But what we actually receive is too often a strange 
medley of ingredients mixed according to a recipe from which 
scientific technique, and the advice of a consultative body of 
experts in all departments of applied sociology, are omitted. 
The historical pictures, for instance, should be a synthesis of 
historical facts duly attested by men who are fitted for the job. 
As a rule the historical picture is a technical impertinence, cal- 
culated to destroy historical knowledge instead of to preserve 
it. 

Pictures made with the object of claiming serious attention 
should be perfect in every detail, properly supervised at each 
stage of their making from the raw material to the manufac- 
tured, from nature to the factory, from the studio to the cinema 
or shop window, from the cinema to the public. Only then 
can the manufacturers lay just claim to the pursuit of perfecti- 
bility which they now allege is their journey's end. 

Still, in spite of lack of order, harmony, of knowledge of 
the natural, vital and human sciences, in spite of so much guess- 
work and the close attention of a blind Censor, the commercial 
pictures do very often contain up-to-date scientific facts of much 
value, introduced by accident not design, and capable of illus- 
trating advanced scientific theories. 

The material out of which machinery and box office enter- 
tainment are manufactured, falls into three parts, natural, vital 
and human, answering to the three divisions into which applied 
sociology falls nowaday. 

First come the natural surroundings which have been 
described already. They include the outdoor ingredients, the 
astronomical, geological and physical elements of exceptional 
variety. 

Second come the vital or occupational factors — the " movie- 
towns," "walled cities," "lots," the innumerable smaller fac- 



126 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tories, the mass of complicated apparatus, all the mechanical 
machinery that forms the technical outfit of a large-scale 
industry. The solid capital in fact. 

Third comes the human material, meaning the human 
beings who colonise Hollywood and are used for the purpose 
of being mainufactured into saleable commodities, by camera 
kings, production kings, film kings, make-up chiefs, and the 
rest of the major and minor royalties and nobility. They them- 
selves occupy a prominent place in the Hollywood Debrett 
where they shine as kings and beauty queens and somebodies 
of Filmland importance. The Hollywood Film King is, like 
the primitive, a cooking man. He cooks everything, even 
Apollo-like kings and beauty queens, and he uses a recipe made 
according to the prevailing picture fashion. There are fashions 
in pictures as in women's hats, and the Cinema Cooks follow 
them. Perhaps some would say that entertainment undergoes 
an evolutionary process, and the wearers of Hollywood crowns 
and coronets do not let Darwin's missing link have it all its own 
way. Thus for the early short reelers the minor Film Kings 
used to take odds and ends of acrobats, plunge them into natural 
extravagance, and set the dish before a small audience. Then 
came the stage show, and odds and ends of disguised actors were 
bought up brushed and trimmed and thrown like Chaplin 
custards at the open-mouthed public. Then came the big stage 
star in the " feature " picture, who was served up basted all 
over with gold, in a luxury setting, and surrounded by publicity. 
Then came types ranging from the dream-like beauty to the 
Caliban-like beast. Then the commercial recipe was : Catch 
your beauty or beast, buy him or her at a price that would make 
Croesus weep with envy; then dissect him or her; select the 
parts that photograph best; then put the result into the close 
up. After the assorted parts of the types came the type stars in 
roles exactly suited to show them to greatest advantage and as 
a whole. In this case the recipe contained " doubles." It ran, 
remove those parts of the star which are unsaleable by reason 



ACTUALITIES 127 

of their unshapeliness, say, silly legs or arms or splay feet, and 
replace them with the comely limbs of a double. Of course the 
spare parts are always plentiful and cheap, and they are fitted 
so cleverly that no one in the audience knows that they are 
spare parts, not even the critics who are invited to view them 
through a glass of cheap port, or if they be Cochrans of the 
profession, through a champagne luncheon, on Press view days. 
That roughly is the practice; now for details of the ingredients. 

Once upon a time while I was at Moscow I saw a little 
revolutionary play performed in a cellar by workmen, their 
wives and friends. The play was called " The Mangy Dog." 
It was an attack on army methods. Army officials were shown 
buying cannon fodder from Fodder Kings who called up sturdy 
young men and women from the audience and sold them piece- 
meal to the " brass hats." Prices varied according to the 
physical fitness of arms, legs, bodies, eyes, teeth, and so on. 
These fragments, or little personalities, it appears, have a sale- 
able military value. I was reminded of my experiences. Each 
time I was called up for military service I was examined by 
about 50 doctors to each of whom a part of me, liver, intestines, 
etc., was allotted for valuation. 

The Moscow incident led me to take notes of the 
most saleable human parts exposed for sale on the screen. 
I was able to detect and judge their values by the method of 
isolating objects or fragments of objects by means of the close 
up, or by lighting. In time I came possessed of a long list of 
these little personalities, or best seller parts, as they appear to 
the hard-headed business men who put them on the screen. I 
was very interested in watching this game of making half-a- 
dozen personalities out of one personality, of seeing a human 
figure represented by a pair of acting hands, or by a nose, or 
eyes, just as Phil Scott, the boxer, has been described as a body 
hung on two fists. I am sure that a classified list of the acting 
or box office bits of stars will interest readers. So I open my 
note-book and jot down the following : 



128 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

First let me give two or three recipes for making pictures. 
Here is one for " Her Wild Oats," a Colleen Moore comedy : 
i Lumbering girl. 
i Policeman, 
i Big dog. 
23 Men (assorted). 
3 Fat women. 

5 Small boys (assorted sizes, poor clothes). 
1 Overdressed Italian. 

6 Women (old clothes). 
6 Men (old clothes). 1 

This looks like Barnum in a rag shop. 
Here is a note by Pudovkin, the Russian producer, on 
physical values : 

" Ears, after eyes, he considers most important as revealing 
idiosyncrasies. 

" Young men, in his opinion, should try to get a glimpse 
of the lobes beneath the shingle before they propose. Young 
girls should pay attention to the shape of their suitors' ears. 

The kind of ear to avoid,' he said, ' is the pointed one. 
It means selfishness and deceit. 

The almost flat-topped ear is the outward and visible 
sign of an honest, straightforward nature.' " 2 

" Here is the recipe for making an American film given 
by Mr. W. Gavazzi King, consulting secretary of the Cinemato- 
graph Exhibitors' Association, at an exhibitors' conference at 
Morecambe : 

One pound of sob sentiment. 
One pound of thrills. 

One-and-a-half pound of legs and backs (bare if possible). 
Half a pound of night club and cabaret mixed. 
Three pounds of star (at a million dollars per pound if 
possible). 

1 First National Pathe Publicity Sheet. 

2 The Daily Express, August 19, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 129 

One pound of humour. 
Three pounds of settings. 
One ounce of story." 1 

Here is why babies sell: 

"It is well known by hlm-makers that, by putting into a 
picture, even without any good reason, some photographs of a 
baby, aged from nine months to four years, a large proportion 
of almost all audiences will respond with a murmur of ' Oh, 
the dear little thing! ' Kittens in a basket, or young puppies 
lurching towards a saucer of food have much the same effect. 

" It was left for Chaplin to put on the screen almost its 
only objectionable child, that small monster in ' The Pilgrim/ 
who so much liked punching Charlie's face. 

" Perhaps the best-known children on the screen are those 
called ' Our Gang,' but a little of them goes a long way. 
Hundreds of people also sighed with relief when Baby Peggy 
retired from the screen at the age of eight or so, and others are 
delighted that Jackie Coogan — who was rather unconvincing 
when he went on trying to look six after he was ten — has now 
had a manly haircut and will in future play big boys' parts." 2 

Here is how the Hollywood Film Kings classify and 
pigeon-hole their goods, and what happened when two vamp 
types refused to vamp : 

" Hollywood's habit of classifying its actors and actresses 
as ' types ' rather than human beings has resulted in a remark- 
able situation over the screen future of the two famous Con- 
tinental stars, Miss Lya de Putti and Miss Greta Garbo, who have 
repeated in America, on a larger scale, the success that they won 
in European countries. 

" Miss de Putti is well known here, chiefly owing to her 
performance in the film ' Vaudeville,' and Miss Garbo, who was 
seen in ' Gosta Berling,' is a worthy rival to her. 

" When they reached America they were so different from 

1 The Daily News, June 23, 1927. 

2 Iris Barry in The Daily Mail, May 11, 1927. 



130 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

anything that Hollywood had ever seen before that the film-pro- 
ducers were at a loss to classify them in the conventional pigeon- 
holes of photoplay construction. 

" Finally they said to Miss de Putti, in effect, ' You are the 
type of woman who (on the screen) deliberately leads men 
astray,' and to Miss Garbo, speaking figuratively, they said: 
' You are the type of woman who (on the screen) leads men 
astray in spite of herself.' 

" Miss de Putti and Miss Garbo, however, though gratified 
by their success, were not content to go on ' vamping ' for ever. 

" They asked to be allowed to vary the ' vamp ' theme 
with roles more ingenuous. Permission was refused. 

" Miss de Putti at once threw up the job, an act which 
brought immediate compliance from her producers, but Miss 
Garbo was not so fortunate. 

" Her contract had a long period to run, and her employers 
were powerful enough to prevent her from getting parts else- 
where. 

" They told her that if she refused to ' vamp ' they would 
have her deported by asking the immigration authorities to 
cancel her permit to work in America. 

" ' Vamp or vamoose ' was what they said, in effect, to Miss 
Garbo, and there the matter rests." 1 

Here is a bid for Gene Tunney's, the well-known prize- 
fighter, voice: 

" Gene Tunney, retired heavy-weight champion of the 
world, has not departed entirely from the limelight. 

" Messages arriving here to-day from the liner ' Saturnia,' 
in which his fiancee, Miss Josephine Lauder, is journeying to 
Italy for their wedding, state that Mr. Jeffery Farnol, the 
novelist, has offered Mr. Tunney the starring role in a * talking ' 
version of his book, ' The Amateur Gentleman,' which was 
screened less than two years ago as an ordinary film. 

"It is understood that Mr. Tunney is awaiting the opinion 

i The Sunday Express, April 3, 1927. 



ACTUALITIES 131 

of his fiancee before reaching a definite decision on the offer. 

" Mr. Farnol, I understand, suggested a re-screening of 
his novel as a ' talkie ' in order to take advantage of Gene's fine- 
speaking voice. The original version of the picture starred 
Richard Barthelmess." 1 

Here is a list of " Don'ts " which 24 American picture pro- 
ducers have taken a solemn oath to observe, because they are 
convinced that vulgarity does not pay, and moreover, that Holly- 
wood must live down its wicked past. There shall be no more 
renaming of subjects on the American sensational catch-penny 
plan. No renaming of " Annie Laurie " as " Ladies from 
Hell " or " Lilliom " as " A Trip to Paradise." Everything 
shall be refinement itself : 

" Pointed profanity by title or lip. 
Illegal traffic in drugs. 
White slavery. 
Mixing of races. 
Ridicule of the clergy. 
Wilful offence to any nation, race, or creed. 
' There is a second list of ' Don'ts ' which can be used if 
treated properly. They are : 

Religion or religious ceremonies. 
Arson. 

Use of firearms. 

Theft, robbery, safe-cracking and dynamiting trains. 
Methods of smuggling. 
Third degree methods." 2 

I wonder if the 24 have ever heard of the Censor. 
Here is how " revolutions," technical and other, affect the 
market : 

! * The coming of the talkies must have created quite a brisk 
demand for noses fit for film-heroines to squawk through." 3 

" Stars who used champagne to bathe in, lived in palaces 

1 The Evening Standard, September 9, 1928. 

2 The Evening Standard, September 17, 1928. 

3 The Evening News, August 31, 1929. 



132 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

built of solid gold, and went to Hollywood in diamond-studded 
trains " no longer do so. 1 

As for the classification, let me begin with the whole per- 
sonality. Here are some " He-man " types of high investment 
value. I daresay the Film Kings have paid millions for 
them. 

"The Great Lovers: John Gilbert, Ronald Colman, Ivan 
Mosjoukhine, Lars Hansen. 
The Rough Necks: Wallace and Noah Beery, Lionel 

Barrymore, Victor McLaglan. 
The Men of the World : Adolph Menjou, Lew Cody, 

Clive Brook. 
The Nice Youths : Rod La Rocque, Monte Blue, Douglas 
MacLean, Harrison Ford, George O'Brien, Richard 
Dix, Richard Barthelmess, Reginald Denny, Ralph 
Forbes, Conrad Nagel. 
The Strong Silent Men: Conway Tearle, Milton Sills, 

H. B. Walthall, Antonio Moreno. 
The Westerners : Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Fred Thomp- 
son, the former preacher, Buck Jones." 2 
The complete types fall, roughly, into two classes. Angels 
and Devils or Heroes and Heroines, and Villains and 
Villainesses, or simply Good and Bad. Sturdy villains com- 
mand attention and a high price : 

" Ripe and sturdy villains, once confined entirely to films 
of the Wild West, have of late made their way into the fore- 
ground of the screen world. They are the best thing in it 
to-day. 

" Gross, inarticulate, and touching figures like Jannings in 
' Vaudeville,' and Bancroft in ' Paying the Penalty,' strike the 
public imagination far more forcibly than do the saccharine 
figures of handsome heroes, so thickly coated with whitewash 
that they are prevented from performing one credible action, and 

1 Mrs. Alice Williamson in The Evening News. 

2 The Evening Standard, April 18, 1027. 



ACTUALITIES 133 

confined almost entirely to loving, losing, and regaining pretty 
maidens. 

" A gust of drama, great because it touches real life, has 
found its way into the cinemas since it dawned on producers 
that it was possible to put real living characters into films. 
Victor McLaglen in ' What Price Glory ' was a horrible fellow; 
but how much more interesting to watch than John Barrymore 
in the artificial and sickly roles to which his talent has unfor- 
tunately been condemned lately ! The world loves a villain on 
the screen every bit as much as it loves a lover. Barrymore 
and the other handsome actors have been reformed to death." 1 

The types of the wicked include : 

Men Women. 

The Sheik, the red-blooded he- Vamps, 
man. Big strong man. Decoys. 
Cave man stuff. Thieves. 

Gunmen. " Women with Souls as black 

Bootleggers and Hi-jackers. as Hell." 

Rum-runners. And a variety of real bad 'uns. 

Gangsters and Stick-up men. Rough men and foul women 

Underworld Denizens. who have no chance of 

Bowery Types. seeing heaven. 

Broadway Rowdies. 

Waterfront Plug-uglies. 

Bolshevists disguised behind 
beards like young 
forests. 

Convicts with domes like bil- 
liard balls and faces 
like baboons. 

Tough Seamen. 

Bandits and Bank-busters. 

Thugs. 

All alike realise good prices. 

The most precious and most valuable of the go-between 

1 The Daily Mail, September 8, 1928. 



134 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

types is the " It " girl. The Clara Bow type. She is required 
to have special qualifications. " International interest, weight, 
shape, size, Age, Youth, Beauty, Personality and above all a 
powerful ' It ' Appeal." 1 " It " is another name for 
sex. 

The " It " men are priceless. Rudolph Valentino was king 
or, should it be, emperor in this class. They are the Perfect 
Lovers that adolescent and sexually starved women worship. 

The requisites on the " good " or " virtuous " side are 
Youth, Beauty and Personality. Eugenic heroes, or the perfect 
man type (as Elinor Glyn, the originator of the " It " type in 
fiction, classifies Tom Mix), come under the head of Youth, a 
term that covers a multitude of incompetents, such as Flappers, 
dainty and intriguing Fashion Plates, Joy Girls and Boys, and 
all the capering young people we see on the screen who have 
just left the nursery. 

Beauty sets the Film King in quest of the Golden Girl and 
the Apollo Boy. Female beauty on the screen, such as is seen 
in Clara Bow, Janet Gaynor, and Billie Dove, attracts men, and 
male beauty, women, just as the public are attracted by 
Botticelli's " The Birth of Venus," Piero della Francesca's 
"Virgin," Baldovinetti's "Virgin," Titian's "Salome," and 
other types of female beauty in paintings. The majority of 
these Golden Girls appear to have two characteristics in 
common. They are baby women, or baby " virgins " as Yvette 
Guilbert described them, 2 ranging from 4ft. 6in. to 5ft. 2in., and 
in years from 16 to 21. They come from schools, convents, 
beauty competitions and so on, and they are golden in more 
senses than one. " The little wisp of a Janet Gaynor," 
" demure little Lois " (Moran 4ft. ioin.), Madge Bellamy, 
Dolores del Rio, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, Judy King. All 
small and priceless beautiful fragments with a box office value 
are exceedingly valuable. They include : 

1 See " Fox News," July 9, 1928. 

2 The Sunday Chronicle, June 16, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 135 

Visible necks of adorable girls. Different kinds of hair that 

Alluring legs. talk. The badly-be- 

Inviting lips. haved hair of Estelle 

Naughty feet. Brody. The well-be- 

Embracing arms. haved of Lillian Har- 

Fathomless eyes. vey. The baby hair of 

Angel noses. Betty Balfour. 

Million dollar smiles. Any bit of a personality that 

Pearl-like teeth. invites adoration and 

Tears like crystal drops. excites vice. 
Hair that frames the face with 
magic. 

A large variety of odds and ends of human material may 
be gathered from the publicity sheets, such as Fox News, prior 
to 1929. 

It appears that there exists a Hollywood standard of Perfect 
Female Beauty. " It consists of loveliness of Form, charm, 
grace, intelligence, femininity, colouring and type." 1 " Intelli- 
gence " is no doubt of a strictly Hollywood kind. Perhaps it 
would be more correct to say did exist. Since the arrival of 
the talking picture, beauty has given place to facial contortion, 
and india-rubber faces now rule the cinema market. 

The acting parts of the body that fetch high prices are in- 
numerable. Here are a few. Adam's apples that register 
thirst, scorn, etc.; noses that turn up as though asking Heaven's 
forgiveness for their owners' sins, or down, or inside out when 
belching with rage; ears that flap. It will be remembered that 
Sir James Barrie said he could flap his ears and was in this 
respect superior to Mr. Bernard Shaw, just as Mr. Shaw said 
he was superior to Mussolini because he could waggle his brow 
and Mussolini could not. There is much money for ear flappers 
and brow wagglers on the screen. Toes that fondle each other 
also have a screen market value. To judge by the exhibition 
of toe fondling by the semi-nude sexes on the seashore, appar- 
ently you are expected to consider it the only thing worth living 
1 The Daily Express, March 15, 1929. 



136 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

for. Miscellaneous things that add a few thousands a year to 
the value of Bathing Beauties like say Mae Busch, and other 
Beauties, include names (a star by any other name than her pro- 
fessional one would not sell half so well. Fancy a Star Beauty 
Queen using her own name, Sally Scratchit). Also titled hus- 
band's. When June married Lord Inverclyde there was a report 
that she was offered open cheques to appear in pictures. I do 
not know whether it was true. 

The animal kingdom is not neglected. Look at those best 
sellers the dog, " Rin-tin-tin," and the magnificent cowboy star 
steeds, like Tom Mix's " Tony." 

Needless to say, the Talkie has led the Film Kings to desert 
the old silent market for a new sound one, where a new class of 
"goods" fitted to Talkie purposes are to be found. Hence one reads : 

" After eighteen months' preparation and an expenditure 
of ^3,000,000 on new equipment, the Fox Film Company of 
America to-day announce that it is dropping the silent film and 
concentrating entirely on producing dialogue and musical mov- 
ing pictures. 

" According to an official announcement issued at the New 
York headquarters of the company, 200 leading American 
musical comedy and legitimate stage stars, directors and 
dramatists, including the cowboy-comedian, Will Rogers, have 
been signed to appear exclusively in films made by Fox. 

" This move, made by the largest single film company in 
America, dooms many film stars whose beauty is their sole 
asset. — International News Service." 1 

Formerly, sob-stuff and slim women were in demand. 
Now, brighter and plumper females are required. 

Cornering the Talkie market means the wholesale pur- 
chase of everything and everybody of Talkie and Vaudeville 
value — singers, orchestras, song writers, music publishers, 
variety artistes, smart-crackers, dancers, song and dance men, 
plays, musical comedies, professional actors and actresses with 

1 The Evening Standard, March 25, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 137 

voices, electrical apparatus technicians, play producers; the pur- 
chase of big tracks of land 40 to 50 acres in extent, the erection 
of immense padded cells, the expenditure of 100,000,000 dollars 
on buildings and equipment, and the rest. 

Besides the genuine types of Beauty there are the faked 
types. It is to the credit of the Film Kings that extravagant 
though they be they do not waste material. They have evolved 
methods whereby the most unpromising types can be converted 
into money-makers. Speaking of one of the causes of the failure 
of English pictures, a London cinema critic says that " Beauti- 
ful Film faces are not beautiful. Many film beauties are plain 
women who have been transformed by the skilful handling of 
the Camera. They do this thing better in Hollywood than at 
Elstree. For instance, Betty Compson, though comparatively 
unattractive here, is attractive at Hollywood. Hence, Holly- 
wood has the pull." 1 He is arguing that the failure of the Eng- 
lish photographers to " fake " faces, to make a skilful use of the 
camera, is the cause of bad business. Hollywood can not only 
pay the price for the genuine article, but it can turn out imitations 
of it calculated to deceive the connoisseur of the highest rank. 

Of course this means that Hollywood is a seventh heaven 
where the chemist rules the stars. It is a sort of synthetic 
Elysium in which the women are a marvellous combination of 
the chemical industries. 

Read this, and you will express no surprise that the Film 
King who runs a chemical factory does not worry when the 
temperamental, genuine Star Beauty gives him the sack for not 
increasing her salary by another thousand a week. He can 
always fake a substitute. 

' The resolution of a ' flapper's ' appearance into its 
chemical constituents did much yesterday to disillusion a Daily 
Express representative. 

" Dr. E. F. Armstrong, managing director of the British 
Dyestuffs Corporation, has described the ' flapper ' as the patron 

1 G. A. Atkinson in The Daily Express, September 2, 1929. 



138 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

saint of chemistry. Professor A. M. Low not only elucidated 
this description : he established that the ' flapper ' was a walking 
chemical experiment — a parade of substitutes for nature. 

" Let him who adores a girl reflect that he adores largely a 
combination of red lead oxide, petroleum greases, henna, cellu- 
lose products, paper and wood pulp, nitric acid, and dyes. 

' I would say,' remarked Professor Low, ' that only 
twenty-five per cent, of girls have naturally coloured hair. The 
rest use henna or peroxide unashamed or else some " brighten- 
ing " washes — and the brightening quality is due simply to mild 
dyes. Many of them have " permanently " waved hair, and 
that operation involves the use of glutinous chemicals to help 
the heat in its deformation of the natural lie of the hair. 

" ' Her face,' continued Professor Low, ' owes its roses to 
red oxide of lead on lips and cheeks. Her creams are largely 
extracts of petroleum. Her dark eyelashes and eyebrows pay 
tribute mainly to sienna or lampblack or carbon.' 

' And her pale hands, pink-tipped ? ' was asked. 

" ' Chemically bleached,' replied Professor Low, * and pink- 
tipped with nails covered by tinted celluloid.' 

"'Her clothes?' 
' Imitation wool and imitation silk. The " wool " is 
made of grass and wood fibre. The " silk is a cellulose pro- 
duct — a compound of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which, 
when treated with nitric acid, forms the base of artificial silk. 

" ' Her shoes are often paper pulp, stamped and printed 
with chemical dyes into the resemblance of skins.' "* 

Coming to the question of Star Finance, it is important to 
ask, what do Film Kings pay for their precious human material 
genuine and faked? The answer may be given in head-lines 
and figures. "The Highest-Paid Vamp." "This is Greta 
Garbo . . . Hollywood's most highly-paid vamp." 2 
" ^42,000 a Year Film Autocrat." 3 Mr. A. E. Dupont is re- 

1 The Daily Express, November 29, 1927. 

2 The Daily Express, November 18, 1927. 

3 The Evening News, January 7, 1927. 



ACTUALITIES 139 

f erred to. " Mae Murray to Have ^1,500 a Week for Making 
Talking Films." 1 " To Make ^100,000 in Six Weeks." 2 Paul 
Whiteman, the famous orchestra leader, is the " quick-lunch 
^600,000 getter." " ^150,000 Talkie Offer To George Robey." 3 
But Mr. Robey is required to do eighteen months' hard work 
for this meagre sum. And the news story leaves him thinking 
it over. So I should think. Tall as Mr. Whiteman's six weeks' 
remuneration appears, it sinks into utter insignificance beside 
the figures of Mr. " Jolson's income." Under his agreement 
with Warner's, A. Jolson is paid ^45,000 in cash, and a royalty 
of 10 p.c. on all gross receipts over ^200,000. It is expected 
that the " Singing Fool " in this country alone will make 
^500,000 gross. It is, therefore, probably under-estimating A. 
Jolson's income very heavily to say that it amounts to ^5,000 a 
week. . . . It is estimated that he will make ^1,000,000 a 
year if he joins the Allied Artists to make two pictures a year." 4 
^1,000,000 a year is not so bad. Compare it with the following 
salaries paid to bill-toppers: 

" A census taken in connection with the wage war shows 
that there are 750 film stars in California, receiving an aggre- 
gate of ^5,200,000 a year. The general prosperity of the United 
States film industry is indicated by the following table of salaries 
received annually by the best-known film stars : — 





£ 




I 


Harold Lloyd - - 


208,000 


Adolph Menjou - - 


52,000 


Tom Mix - - - 


208,000 


Reginald Denny - - 


36,400 


Charles Chaplin - - 


156,000 


Mary Pickford - - 


104,000 


(and a p.c. of profits) 




(and a p.c. of profits) 




Douglas Fairbanks - 


156,000 


Lillian Gish - - - 


78,000 


(and a p.c. of profits) 




Gloria Swanson - - 


72,000 


John Barrymore - - 


104,000 


Norma Talmadge - 


72,000 


Buster Keaton - - 


83,200 


Colleen Moore - - 


72,000 



1 The Daily News, May 1, 1929. 

2 The Evening Standard, October 23, 1928. 
a The Daily Chronicle, April 6, 1929. 

4 The Daily Chronicle, December 19, 1929. 



140 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

' Two thousand of the lesser-known stars receive an aggre- 
gate of ^2,000,000 annually." 1 

This was in 1927. Harold Lloyd is said to receive now 
^400,000 a year. 

Turning from the value put upon stars by the Film Kings, 
let us consider the value stars put upon themselves. 

" Dorothy Mackaill asked ^50,000 for an appearance in an 
English film." 2 

" Mae Murray, the famous film star, has brought an action 
against the Fox Theatres for ^50,000 damages in respect of an 
injury to her foot, which she alleges was caused while she was 
working for the defendant company at Brooklyn last year. — 
Central News." 3 

" Miss Faye Marbe, the well-known singer, dancer and 
cinema actress, who is said to be studying with a view to taking 
up grand opera, is suing Mr. Samuel Zierler, president of the 
Prudence Pictures Corporation, for ^20,000, and the corporation 
itself for ^10,000 on a charge of breach of contract. — Reuter. 

" Miss Marbe, according to the Central News, states that 
Mr. Zierler made overtures to her to devote her career to the 
* talkies,' and that a contract was signed. This contract she 
alleges has been broken. 

" Miss Fay Marbe had a ^100 a week part in ' Yvonne/ 
at Daly's Theatre, London, in 1926, but the directors considered 
her unsuitable and dismissed her. She sued the theatre and 
obtained ,£6,300 damages. 

" She is said to have insured her smile with a British com- 
pany for ^50,000. This sum is to be paid if during the ten 
years up to 1937 her smile loses its charm through accident or 
illness." 4 

Probably the ^50,000 foot and the ^50,000 smile leads them 
to presume that they are entitled to every penny they fetch. In 

1 The Sunday Express, July 31, 1927. 

2 A. T. Borthwick, The News-Chronicle, July 3, 1930. 

3 The Daily Chronicle, October 25, 1929. 

4 The Daily Chronicle, September 9, 1929. 




X » r o 

~! t*.a 

till 

13 <u o ^ 

,±3 y c/3 ai 

U3 - *-• 

■3 S.S « 

-5; <u j£ > 

:& s 8 § . 

^■s « u S 

CO O fo^ O 
5 g • ^ « ► * 

^ * 3,S 3 
. 2*5 tl ^ 

■|a.sl» 

jf M O u C 

^ o ^.2 

£ d g.s s 

o 2 a;^ ti 
3 <U as Z 3 

< £ * y « 

.jH OT U 4J 

<s — •*-> "^ be 

N « s. <L> — 

?'§ ° 3.§ 

aj -P 13 'w 

5 O IH -C 



ACTUALITIES 141 

any case, the income tax man has been on the trail of some of 
them. 

" Investigations by United States Government officials into 
the income tax returns made by members of the Hollywood 
film colony have been followed by accusations against two famous 
screen personalities. 

" Miss Eleanor Boardman, the film star, has been indicted 
by a Federal Grand Jury on a charge of evading income tax 
payments by filing false returns. 

" The Grand Jury also returned an information against her 
husband, Mr. King Vidor, the producer, who is accused of 
similar evasions. 

" Miss Boardman is accused of withholding ^1,786 due 
on account of income tax in three years. 

" Mr. Vidor is accused of under-estimating taxes on ^7,775 
for two years. 

" It is reported that a compromise will be arranged between 
Miss Boardman and the United States District Attorney. 

" Miss Boardman, who is 30 years of age, made her film 
debut in 1922. Her more recent films include ' Bardelys, the 
Magnificent,' and ' Tell it to the Marines.' 

" Mr. Tom Mix, the cowboy film star, was indicted recently 
by a Federal Grand Jury at Los Angeles on a charge of with- 
holding ^20,000 due on account of income tax. — British United 
Press." 1 

" Miss Mackaill is alleged to have fraudulently deducted 

What does the millionaire star buy with his money? 
' Tom Mix is the owner of one of the largest ranches in Arizona, 
comprising some 10,000 acres, and containing 7,000 head of 
cattle and a large number of fine horses." 3 " Miss Corinne 
Griffith invests in stocks and bonds and plays the market sys- 
tematically. Miss Dorothy Mackaill trades in stocks and buys 

1 The Evening Standard, May 23, 1929. 

2 The Evening Standard, October 18, 1929. 

3 " Fox Newspaper Service," July 11, 1927. 



142 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Hollywood real estate. Miss Alice White plays the stock 
market. Richard Barthlemess buys and sells or trades business 
properties." 1 And so on. 

" The mind of the ordinary man is staggered by the finance 
of Hollywood. Estimates for the next twelve months show that 
^20,000,000 is to be spent on film making." 2 And the return 
for this ouday, the dividends on the investment in directors and 
stars? In 1929, Warner Brothers made over £3,000,000 profit. 

Such are the golden materials of Hollywood. 

Moral : 

" After the death of Pertinax, the Roman world was offered 
for sale by auction by the all-powerful Praetorian Guard. Didius 
Salvius Julianus Marcus, a wealthy Roman merchant, outbid all 
others, and the world was knocked down to him after he paid 
the equivalent of 5,000,000 dollars in gold on March 28, 193 a.d. 
The Roman Senate took the oath of loyalty to him." 3 

If Didius S. J. Marcus were alive to-day and in an investing 
mood all he would get for his ^1,000,000 would be one Holly- 
wood star. 

F. Structure and Organisation 

Structure is determined by organisation; therefore it is 
necessary to consider only organisation in detail. Structure will 
suggest itself. Looked at squarely, Hollywood comprises a 
function building designed to apply industrial and business 
science to the Cinema. It is organised by business men on 
strictly business lines with the aid of the vast banking amalgama- 
tions which practically govern America. Considered strictly 
from a business point of view it is a miracle structure with an 
100 p.c. efficiency which has inevitably made it the predominat- 
ing picture production centre and box office of the world. It 
cannot be repeated too often that the application of the science 

1 " First National Path6 News," June, 1930. 

2 The Evening News, May 6, 1927. 

3 From " Believe It or Not." 



ACTUALITIES 143 

of business organisation to picture production, distribution and 
consumption together with the use of unlimited capital have 
given the American Cinema Industry its place in the universal 
sun. This fact appears to have escaped the attention of the 
different bodies who are fighting against this mighty octopus. 

Those who are interested in the subject of this mammoth 
business organisation, which has extended itself to the Cinema 
world, and wish to understand it and to know what position 
it occupies in the present-day entertainment world, cannot do 
better than compare three important documents, one a book 
written by a man of genius who controls a mammoth House of 
Business; 1 another a book written by a very able theatrical " show- 
man," as he calls himself; 2 and another a Souvenir containing 
details of the business organisation of one of the four or five 
leading American Production Companies. 3 The first is con- 
cerned with the wonderful story of Commerce from early begin- 
nings, its growth and development and the rise and amazing 
organisation of the Mammoth Business Store, world-wide in its 
operations to which it has given birth to-day. The second re- 
veals how the Theatrical Business House is related to the Business 
Store and the system of ransacking the earth for the most attrac- 
tive and saleable goods in the form of super artistes and shows, 
and how it leans heavily upon bankers and financiers for 
support. The third reveals the most attractive features of the 
Cinema Business House, and its methods of buying and selling. 

The following extract from one of the able publicity 
articles by Callisthenes, appearing daily in The Times, might, 
but for its literary quality, be an extract from a Hollywood 
publicity magazine. 

' The Selfridge organisation was built for high speed — 
and we enjoy it. It was built to overcome difficulties — and 
there can never be enough of them to make us stop smiling. 
We feel we are on our mettle. The numbers and the urgency 

1 " The Romance of Commerce," by H. Gordon Selfridge. 

2 " The Secrets of a Showman," by Charles B. Cochran. 

3 " 1929 Souvenir of Universal Pictures Ltd." 



i 4 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

of our Customers demand that we work at high pressure — and 
we like working at high pressure." 1 

Hollywood's organisation was built not only for high speed 
but for efficiency in production, distribution and consumption 
of saleable commodities. The problem it attacked was maxi- 
mum profit by maximum exploitation. The solution was a 
strictly commercial policy, application of the principles of busi- 
ness science to every department of the Cinema Industry, and 
stricdy commercial methods of production, distribution and con- 
sumption. The big producers, in fact, pledged themselves to 
become world traders operating on the largest scale. They 
identified themselves with world " markets," and they sur- 
rendered themselves to millionaire speculators, financiers, bankers 
and every kind of vast Financial Trust that would trust them 
with untold gold and could be trusted to see that there was 
ample return for the money loaned. There is nothing to show 
that the Big Producing Companies operating on Wall Street used 
the queer processes by which unscrupulous financial experts 
throughout the world extract huge sums from the unsuspecting 
investing public, the small man and the big one alike — processes, 
that is, associated with " stock pools " called " investment 
trusts," '" mushroom banks " to disclose public financial 
resources, intensive selling organisations to induce depositors to 
withdraw their money from the " mushroom banks " in order 
to buy worthless stock; processes that are boiled down by the 
sneak thief street auctioneer who by a system of trickery finds 
out what money the people around him possess and then pro- 
ceeds by means of a confidence trick to secure it. The Big Pro- 
ducing Companies took cleaner and most effective means to 
capture the two classes of picture consumers, the 120,000,000 
Americans, and the 2,000,000,000 or so consumers outside 
America. Doubtless there are contained in each Production 
Company's Sales Department a set of questions which when 
answered provide a clue to the purchasing capacity of the public. 

1 " Peak Week/' by Callisthenes, The Times, December, 1928. 



ACTUALITIES 145 

What is the purchasing power of cinema-goers in such and 
such a country? Who are the cinema-goers? Why should 
they interest our corporation? What entertainment do they 
require? How can we get the entertainment through to them? 
It is a fact that in more than one big Production offices there 
is a map of the earth stuck all over with little flags to denote 
the areas invaded and captured. This recreation of the Film 
King reminds you of Caesar's when he drew a line through the 
heart of England to denote the all-conquering Roman road. 

It is not too much to say that in the matter of organisation 
Hollywood evolved for itself a sort of personality which has held 
sway over the world since 1914, and was till recently greater 
even than that of the Press. The world cinema taken col- 
lectively is still greater than the Press, but there are signs that 
the power of the Hollywood personality is on the wane. It is 
most likely that before long the talking picture will decentralise 
the American Cinema Industry. 

In the aforementioned book, by Mr. Gordon Selfridge, there 
is a most instructive chart of a 20th Century Department Store. 
Its scope is immense. Probably an organisation chart of a 20th 
Century Department Film Factory would cover nearly as much 
ground. At any rate, the following analysis of the Science of 
Business applied to the Theatre and Cinema suggests how much 
ground a chart would cover if worked out in detail. 

I will describe the application of the Business Science to the 
Theatre because it came earlier than the application to the 
Cinema, because it is similar in most respects to that of the 
Cinema, and because it shows how widespread the scientific busi- 
ness system is. 

The Financial Age which succeeded the Age of industrial 
and mechanical revolution and was in fact the direct outcome 
of it, introduced the latter-day science of making money to the 
English theatre. It orientated the theatre from the point of 
view of a mammoth Business Organisation, which in time was 
set working smoothly and swiftly like a very carefully adjusted 



146 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

piece of colossal machinery. The amalgamated and ordered 
activity so represented introduced a new phase of theatrical 
monopoly which gave rise to a fresh struggle to free the Eng- 
lish theatre from an evil that to many persons seemed worse 
than the one it succeeded. In place of royal kings governing 
the theatre it substituted kings of finance as possessers of 
monopolistic rights and trade perogatives over theatrical amuse- 
ments; and it called forth the alleged Free or Semi-commercial 
theatre promoters to act as monopoly breakers. Just as the 
Industrial Revolution called forth an endless variety of socialists 
to put the industrial and social house in order. This science 
of the business organisation of the theatre has persisted till to-day. 

The seeds of the monopoly were sown in America. Here 
business men with large fortunes suddenly came to recognise 
that the theatre could be made a great distributing house con- 
taining the efficient money making machinery of the big Store. 
The formation of theatrical financial Trusts followed. 

In due course American monopolistic methods reached 
England where they were welcomed by business men of the 
theatre and outside groups of money operators. Thus the Eng- 
lish theatre began to be studied as a business science for the 
first time in its history; and the first efforts were made to formu- 
late the principles which must be employed in order to make 
the theatre as financially successful as an efficiently organised 
mammoth Store. 

Briefly stated the most important principles applied are as 
follows : (A) Profit-making or production for the sake of profit. 
Everything in the theatre is bought to sell again at a profit. (B) 
Monopoly, or possessing the whole of a commodity, — theatres, 
plays, players, scenery, accessories, etc., — on demand with the 
object of determining the price and profit. (C) Marketing or 
distributing and persuading people to buy commodities. This 
is largely assisted by (D) Advertising. 

Trusts have throughout practiced the theory of advertising 
as a means of selling the best seats. To-day the practice has 



ACTUALITIES 147 

reached such proportions that advertising is one of the main 
supports of the Trust theatre. Endless announcements in the 
advertisement columns of newspapers and periodicals written by 
theatre directors (who like Mr. Charles Cochran add journalism 
to their many activities), publicity agents and journalists; giant 
posters everywhere; electric signs that cover theatre fronts; 
publicity newsprints sent through the post; house journals: — 
these are but a few of the innumerable advertising devices by 
which the retailer of theatre merchandise, following the 
examples set by wholesale manufacturers and big shopkeepers 
hypnotise the public into buying their goods. (E) Service or 
being of business use to the public. This embodies the theories 
of advertising and selling. It is based on the assumption that 
a very large portion of the public is not inclined to think about 
entertainment; on the accurate knowledge of what that portion 
wants; on putting something that meets this want on the market, 
say war or sex or crime plays, and keeping it there till it ceases 
to make money owing to the inability of the public to maintain 
interest for long, or the over-exploitation of a subject that sets up 
nausea and produces a violent reaction. (F) Foresight, or antici- 
pations of change of demand owing to the said public inability 
to sustain interest, and, in consequence, the necessity of laying 
in months in advance, stock that will meet a new demand to 
be satisfied. 

There are more principles, but those given will suffice to 
show to what extent the commercial theatre has had applied to 
it those scientific business principles, which have also been 
applied to the Cinema. Let (F) provide an illustration of this 
parallelism. Foresight led theatrical managers to lay in a stock 
of plays during the early part of 1914. 1 When the War broke 
out they were found to be unfit for consumption owing to the 
situation that had arisen. Likewise just before the War a 
number of German pictures were acquired, some by a big 
London Daily Newspaper. The War caused them to be put 

1 See " The New Spirit in the European Theatre," Huntly Carter. 



148 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

into cold storage. After the War, the question arose of ex- 
hibiting these pictures in which a very large sum of money had 
been invested. In order to get them on the English market 
excuses were invented for Germany's alleged crimes by the very 
newspaper and persons that had most inflamed England against 
that country. 

There is a difference between the Theatre Business 
Organisation and the Cinema Business Organisation. It is not 
in the policy of the business, but in the scope. A theatre 
addresses itself to a limited audience, whereas a Cinema Pro- 
duction Company addresses itself to the vast Mass in all parts 
of the world, whose pence bring fortunes far in excess of those 
made through the shillings and pounds spent in the Theatre. 
This business of selling to educated and uneducated billions 
through the exploitation of the tastes of all countries, and not 
of one alone, calls for a selling organisation, with methods of 
distribution, publicity and penetration on a scale unknown to the 
Theatre. Speaking of American method of penetration a 
French journalist said recently, " The greatest, strongest and 
most terrifying campaign of penetration is going on in Europe, 
and many of us barely perceive it. Paris is becoming as Ameri- 
can as London and New York. History records no such war 
in all its pages. It extends all over Europe and to it appears to 
be no defence. The Cinema which is the weapon of these 
invaders seems to be all powerful." 1 Concerning advertisement 
we are told, " Millions are spent on newspaper advertisement. 
It is not unreasonable to say that the Film Kings practically 
control the film features of the newspapers in which they adver- 
tise on a big scale. An indiscreet word or harmful criticism by 
a critic may cause them to withdraw advertisements worth 
thousands of pounds to the paper." 2 In confirmation of this 
one may turn to the first two or three numbers of a weekly 
journal and read the threat of boycott for plain speaking. 3 

i The Evening News, October 16, 1929. 

2 London Daily Paper. 

a See " The Film Weekly " early numbers. 



ACTUALITIES 149 

Nothing is left undone in the way of publicity and adver- 
tising. They are carried to lengths that the Theatre does not 
attempt to go. 

" In Hollywood big departments are full of employees writ- 
ing good copy, much of which will find its place in the 
magazines and newspapers. * Interviews ' are being written up 
in a way which pleases the ' fans ' and, therefore, the editors. 
Everything from health hints to gardening notes is being written 
up in these departments, so that the stars are talking to their 
public almost all the time. There are ' still ' photographers em- 
ployed by the publicity departments and no one else, taking 
pictures of the stars from morning to night. When they are 
not actually taking the pictures, they are developing them or 
talking over ' stunt ' pictures which will be taken to-morrow. 
You see the results in the picture papers you read every day. 
Pictures of the Hollywood stars are printed in good magazines 
circulating all over South America, Australia, Germany, South 
Africa, England, and Spain. That is why everybody in the 
world knows the stars who work in Hollywood. At least 
seventy-five per cent, of the pictures and stories published in the 
London ' fan ' magazines come from Hollywood publicity 
departments, although magazines often obtain the material by 
the way of their correspondents. 

"Editors want this publicity stuff when it is good. They 
like those snappy photographs that tell a story and brighten up 
their publication. If they originated in Elstree they would 
probably like them better. Publicity directors — ex-newspaper- 
men, most of them — earn something like fifty pounds a week 
in Hollywood. Their assistants net from ten to twenty pounds 
a week. But they have to turn out good stories suitable for 
the American film magazines one sees on the foreign and 
London news stands." 1 

The little publicity sheets once issued by the most powerful 
Production Corporations, Fox, First National Pathe, Warner 

1 " World's Press News," October 3, 1929. 



150 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Brothers, etc., are unique in their way. Since the Talkie there 
has been a change. F.N. Pathe, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Para- 
mount, Wardour, issue useful information. But Fox and 
Warner, in my experience, are asleep. Each new picture and 
the stars in it were described minutely. The stars were offered 
bouquets, and details of the pictures were recommended in flowers 
of speech that almost made one swoon. The men and women 
who wrote to praise must have been provided with libraries full 
of books containing stores of sublime epithets which never 
apppeared to be exhausted. Week after week the cosdy star was 
basted with this varnish till like an over-faked old master she 
became almost hidden beneath the layers of sticky stuff. But 
perhaps the most amazing feature of these publicity sheets is the 
attempt to educate the exhibitor in the business of selling each 
picture. He is instructed as to the method of advertising every 
separate feaure in the picture, in his cinema and district. He 
is advised to " Go All Out." If the subject of the picture is the 
life of a music master, the exhibitor is told to get the theme song 
sung and played everywhere. To invite music shops to co- 
operate; to have musical instruments in the foyer of his cinema; 
to engage a jazz dancer to amuse the queue; to get costumiers 
and shoe stores to co-operate; to send a barrel organ round 
covered with posters drawing attention to the picture; to engage 
a smart-looking man wearing a straw hat to go along the main 
thoroughfare playing a large saxophone; to send out novelty post 
cards, and so on and so on. 1 

G. Production — Distribution — Exhibition 

As the mighty Hollywood edifice rose from its bed of gold, 
there came problems from the insatiable money-getting appetite 
of the Film Kings. There was the problem of securing more 
and more world power for themselves; more and more golden 
lubricant for their machinery to enable it to stand the terrific 

1 See " Monde " (Paris), December 8, 1928, p. 14, for a French opinion 
of this method of educating the exhibitor how to sell pictures. 



ACTUALITIES 151 

strain of realising the perfectibility of the picture, as they under- 
stood it. How to squeeze a Niagera-like flow of gold from 
billions of pockets by a process of exchange whereby they took 
the monstrous essences, experiences and feelings of the world's 
population, converted them into Sensation and resold them to 
their owners at an enormous profit : that was the question. 

The fact is they were Commodity Kings. The com- 
modities were the things produced by the Cinema Industry 
labour acting upon Human Beings and Nature, that is, Holly- 
wood flesh and blood and natural surroundings. There was a 
Consumer for whom these things were produced. He was the 
buyer to whom the pictures produced were to be sold. The 
thing to be done was to devise a means of supplying the com- 
modities direct from the producer, the seller, to the consumer, 
the buyer; a means to enable the manufacturer to become the 
showman. 

There were many processes involved in the linking up of 
Production with Distribution and Exhibition and Consumption. 
Many points to be considered. For one thing, though the Con- 
sumer represented a vast appetite, it was not a single appetite 
but one made up of many appetites. All the varieties of foods 
preferred by all the different peoples of the world were to be 
eaten by this universal Consumer, after they had first been pre- 
pared for human consumption by the would-be universal pro- 
ducer. 

The first process in the production-distribution-consumption 
link was, then, the preparation of two common dishes, one 
suitable for home consumption, the other for universal consump- 
tion, that is, one for America's 150,000,000 mouths, the other 
for the 450,000,000 Empire mouths and the world's 2,000,000,000 
or so mouths. So there were the production of a national dish, 
and of an international one. The recipe for the latter was 
primitive excitements, sensations, and feelings, common to all 
men; hashings and re-hashings of pictured stories, cutting, 
faking, sabotage, co-operation with foreign producers, and the 



152 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

use of international stars, — stars, that is, possessing sex and other 
delicacies that could be consumed, relished and assimilated by 
the common man as consumer. 

The next process of the production for the sake of world 
consumption industry was the establishment of efficient dis- 
tributing organisations, organisations that could be trusted to 
bear in mind that the Universal Consumer must be approached 
as a superior, not as a subordinate, one willing to pay for his 
hashed-up moods, and feelings, and pay handsomely, but at the 
same time, likely to kick against a surfeit, or an element not 
evolved out of himself, or buried in freak aesthetic as in some of 
the so-called " art " pictures. First came the go-between, the 
middleman distributor. For a time little distributing agencies 
and organisations constituted the tools whereby Hollywood's 
commodities were passed from machine to mouth. This 
method was however too slow and expensive to be tolerated for 
long by the Film Kings with their minds set on rapid and com- 
plete world domination. So gradually they came to operate 
together and in common. Big producing companies combined 
with big distributing agencies for associative action. And as 
these combines increased in size and power by the simple 
methods of absorption and elimination of competition, so re- 
markable developments took place. Not the least was that 
caused by a revolt against the domination so obtained by the 
Film Kings. From the following news-story may be gathered 
the nature of the domination, and of one important revolt which 
it has caused : 

" A combine of big American film interests is about to be 
formed which will add further strength to the domination of 
the world's film shows by about half a dozen American con- 
cerns. 

" The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corporation of America, 
which controls in London the Tivoli Theatre and is turning the 
old Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, into a super-picture 
palace, is combining forces with the United Artists' Corporation. 



ACTUALITIES 153 

' The latter company is a mutual-interest distribution 
agency for such well-known ' stars ' as Douglas Fairbanks, Mary 
Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, 
Buster Keaton, and the Talmadge sisters. 



FILM KINGS DOMINATION 



" Most of these people joined the United Artists Corpora- 
tion as a means of escape from the domination of the film kings, 
and in order to make pictures after their own inclinations. 

' The organisation has proved a great success, but, as Miss 
Pickford pointed out to me some time ago, one of their diffi- 
culties has been in obtaining good distribution of their films 
while so many American cinemas are controlled by the film 
kings. 

" The concern has set up the largest number of film dis- 
tributing organisations in the world. The present merger is 
being undertaken to avoid the expense of these branches and to 
make sure of a good showing for United Artists' films. 

" Charles Chaplin disapproved of the deal at one time, but 
apparently his objections have been overruled. 

" ^12,000,000 INCOME 

' The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer concern is one of the three 
most powerful film concerns in the world. * The Big Parade ' 
and ' Ben Hur ' are two of its latest pictures. It has more than 
a dozen directors at work simultaneously on films, and is a sub- 
sidiary company of Loew's Incorporated, a theatre-owning con- 
cern which controls some 400 cinemas throughout the world, 
as well as a number of legitimate theatres. 

" The ramifications of Loew's extend all over the world. 
The concern recently lent ^400,000 to save the leading German 
film concern from extinction, and so ' cornered ' the best Ger- 
man directors and film ' stars.' It is amalgamated with the 



154 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

pioneer firm of Jury's in England and the famous Gaumont 
firm in France. 

" Its income for the year ended August last was 
^12,221,915, and its net profits ,£1,277,640. It is spending 
^10,000,000 on more theatres in Europe and America." 1 

A very remarkable outcome of the combination of pro- 
ducers with large scale distributing agencies, and without them, 
for the purpose of selling their own goods directly to the con- 
sumer, is seen in the amazing scramble for cinemas. " Build- 
ing, buying and controlling theatres by Americans in Britain, 
Germany, France and the Far East have been going on during 
the whole year (1926). Even in Kartoum and Omdurman, the 
Americans control the picture theatres to this extent, that none 
but American pictures are shown in them." 2 Since these words 
were written the tendency has increased one hundred-fold. New 
causes have arisen to stimulate the business of collaring the 
cinemas. 

The principal causes appear to be: (1) Militant, (2) 
Economic, (3) Attraction, (4) The Talkie. The first is due to 
the titanic struggle now taking place for the ownership and 
control of the cinemas of the world. The second, to the neces- 
sity of building cinemas to hold the maximum of consumers at 
the minimum cost. The third, to attract the consumer to the 
cinema by an increased standard of comfort that shall minimise 
the risk of losing him by continuing to offer him commodities 
which are out of fashion, or which have lost their novelty for 
him. As in pre-war days, when the public began to desert 
the cinema because the novelty of the early moving picture had 
worn off, exhibitors sought to hold their customers by building 
vulgar luxury cinemas. The fourth cause is due to the demand 
for cinemas set up by the Talkie, and the craving of the Talkie 
Kings to make the most of a market which is no longer world- 
wide but exceedingly limited by reason of the language difficulty. 

1 The Eveninq News, February 25, 1927. 

2 W. G. Faulkner, in " The Daily Mail Year Book, 1927." 



ACTUALITIES 155 

Here are some of the causes and effects. 

The decline of business in America: 

" Hence came the three great building years. Gigantic 
cinemas were built all over the United States, so that in one 
case quoted by George Banfield last week there is a town in 
the United States, of 7,000 inhabitants, having a cinema seating 
3,500. Easy chairs, ankle-deep carpets, Ruritanian attendants, 
soda fountains, magical lighting effects, atmospheric decorations 
were all installed." 1 

The fight for the World's Cinemas: 

' There are now four great distinct motion picture corpora- 
tions in the United States. These are Warner Bros., Fox, the 
Radion Corporation of America and Paramount. 

' The battle for supremacy between these four organisations 
is just beginning. The prize is the control of a capital of 
^200,000,000 and of a chain of theatres greater than all the 
cinemas in Britain." 2 

An economic cause : 

" Another factor in the arrival of the giant cinema is the 
increased cost of films, which demands that a house that pro- 
vides the best pictures, adequate music, and the greatest comfort 
for its patrons must be able to accommodate at least 2,000 
people — or lose money. A first-class picture costs a first-class 
theatre anything from ^250 to £600 a week to hire, whereas 
ten years ago the best film cost only £20 or ^30. " 3 

The Talkie : 

Mr. Samuel Goldwyn, interviewed on his arrival in London, 
said : " If you ask me am I going to buy theatres in London to 
show my Talkies, I'll tell you why you need not do that. Cer- 

1 The Sunday Referee, June 2, 1929. 

2 The Daily Chronicle, November 4, 1929. 

3 London Evening Paper. 



156 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tainly one of the things I've come to London for is to fix up 
places where my Talkies will be shown. And Cochran's ' Wake 
Up and Dream ' is pretty sure to be a Talkie before long." 1 

Profit from Rents : 

" The big American Cinemas pay their rents by letting out 
the buildings above the cinema; a practice forbidden in 
London." 2 

The Paramount Cinema, New York, which seats 4,000, 
" towers 35 stories above ' Times ' Square, New York." 3 

The Golden Chains of Cinemas : 

" Another huge theatre and film merger in the United 
States, representing a combined capital of ^60,000,000, was re- 
vealed by the announcement that Warner Brothers, the pioneers 
of the " Talkie-movie " are acquiring the Stanley theatre cir- 
cuit, according to the New Yor\ Herald (quoted by the British 
United Press.) 

" This is the first step towards a still bigger merger, which 
will include the well-known Keith circuit. The Stanley theatres 
will provide an outlet for the Warner Brothers' films. 

" With the Stanley circuit Warner Brothers acquire control 
of First National Pictures, which were previously controlled by 
the circuit. 

" The merger is to be effected by the purchase of shares. — 
British United Press." 4 

Fight to control the Golden Chains: 

" Mr. William Fox, president of the Fox Film Corpora- 
tion, announced this evening that he had completed the sale of 
his holding in the First National Pictures Corporation to Messrs. 
Warner Brothers. 

" The sum involved exceeds ^2,000,000. The purchase 

1 The Evening Standard, May 11, 1929. 

2 " Close Up," November, 1927, p. 68. 

3 The Observer, December 5, 1926. 

4 The Evening News, September 9, 1928. 



y 3r » 5 •« ? b 







b/j O 

.S u 

•si 



£ o 






eg 



° XS S 

■ifc 



M o 



S 4J8§ 

So» o'tSJ 

<u *< «J o fl) 

^r^ gag 



tS £•£ 

C £ o 
03 <u W 

Sec 

O <s JS 
►I rC u 



O 3 



S3 <u 



*_; 

bo X 
C <u 

c a 

CD 2 

> £ £ 

>• •■' <u 

be £ c/5 

5P n V< -C 



c ^ 






Cm". 

O O C/5 



o 

T3 C >> cu "S 



>> c 



a U" > o 



ACTUALITIES 157 

by Warner Bros, of the William Fox holdings in First National 
of America is a chapter of one of the most exciting dramas 
played behind the scenes of the film world. 

" Early last year William Fox purchased the West Coast 
Theatres, a chain of cinemas dominating film exhibition on the 
Pacific Coast. With this purchase went a large holding in First 
National. 

" In the autumn of last year Warner Bros, bought the 
Stanley Circuit of theatres, which carried with it a one-third 
interest in First National. An exciting race for control of First 
National ended by Warner Bros, securing 19,000 shares held by 
another theatre chain. The purchase announced yesterday from 
New York probably refers to the West Coast theatre situation, 
and will still further strengthen Warner Bros.' hold on the 
American cinema theatres. 

" Although the negotiations for an alliance between Warner 
Bros, and Paramount have unexpectedly broken down, Warner 
Bros, continue to dominate the American film world. 

" This position they won by their early monopoly of talking 
picture production. They are now extending their monopoly 
to colour picture production, the first example of which to be 
seen in England is ' On with the Show ' at the Tivoli." 1 

The ^1,000,000 cinema : 

" When Mr. Schenck arrived at Southampton this after- 
noon in the German liner ' Bremen,' he told me : 

* It has been wrongly stated that I am proposing to take 
over a number of your legitimate theatres for the purpose of 
showing pictures. That is not true. 

1 For one thing, your theatres are not well adapted for 
picture showing. They are too small, and they are wrongly 
built. 

* To show a picture in one of your legitimate theatres 
means, with a seating capacity of about 700, charging 10s. or so 

1 The Daily Chronicle, November 4, 1929. 

13 



158 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

for every seat. That is much too high. No seats in any cinema 
should cost more than 5s. 

" ' I have come to Britain this time to plan a million pound 
theatre. It will have between 3,000 and 4,000 seats, and will be 
built in the West End.' " J 

The Cinema Cathedral : The Roxy model : 
" The Roxy Theatre in New York, built at a cost of 
£2,000,000 and seating 6,000. The latest triumph of a cinema 
house." 2 

" At Roxy's Theatre last night more than 6,000 persons 
arose and cheered, drowning out the noise of the recording 
machine." 3 " More New York film theatres are to be built on 
the plan of the Roxy." 4 " Fox Film Corporation has paid more 
than ^3,000,000 to secure a controlling interest in the new 
Roxy picture house." 5 

" Cathedrals for Great Pictures " : 

" William Fox's two theatre deals, involving as they do an 
expenditure of close on $150,000,000, are undoubtedly the most 
sensational event that has ever occurred in the film industry. 
By this master-stroke Fox has put himself at the head of the 
field of American Theatre magnates. For, to speak only of 
the West Coast Theatre Circuit, which was involved in the first 
deal, the theatres concerned are valued at over $100,000,000, and 
do a weekly business of $700,000. All over America now 
William Fox has key houses which will show Fox films and he 
has expressed a definite intention of building theatres in the 
great capitals all over the world." 6 

" A Cinema Combine : 

" The Gaumont British Picture Company which has a 
registered capital of £2,500,000. " 7 

1 The Evening Standard, December 23, 1929. 

2 The Westminster Gazette, March 28, 1927. 

3 Fox Newspaper Service, June 13, 1927. 

4 The Daily News, March 28, 1927. 
* Ibid. 

6 Fox Newspaper Service, February 20, 1928. 

7 The Daily Herald, March 28, 1927. 



ACTUALITIES 159 

The Cinema fight leads to " conspiracy " : 

" The Federal Trade Commission has issued an order call- 
ing on Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky, and the Famous Players- 
Lasky Corporation to discontinue alleged unfair methods of 
competition in the cinema industry, which the commission 
alleges involve practices prohibited by the anti-monopolistic laws. 
' The commission characterises these efforts as a conspiracy 
to ' monopolise or attempt to monopolise the motion picture 
industry.' It states that the defendants control 363 theatres, 
and dictate to cinema exhibitors through ' block booking,' under 
which exhibitors are compelled to take all the pictures in a 
group, or none. The defendants are ordered within sixty days 
to discontinue this practice, and also to discontinue the acquisi- 
tion of theatres for the purpose of intimidating others." 1 

A further cause of cinema building and buying is publicity. 
Some of the super theatres serve the purpose of shop windows 
for the exhibition of goods to be sold. In other words they 
are used for Trade and Press shows. That much importance is 
attached to these first shows, which are attended by critics, 
directors, society folk, stars, and some starvelings, a very varied 
assortment of theatrical folk, etc., may be gathered from the 
following : 

" A world premiere of a film, wherever it may be held, is 
a very important affair indeed — much more important than the 
casual filmgoer ever dreams, for on it depend not only enormous 
sums of money, but the reputation, and perhaps, in the long 
run, even the very livelihood of the stars. 

" An unsuccessful premiere of a picture on which, say, 
^150,000 has been spent — not by any means an unusual sum for 
a production — may mean the total loss of practically every penny, 
a loss that is felt by thousands of the company's shareholders. 

" Similarly, the star of a picture that ' flops ' at its first 
showing may, as a consequence, if it is her first big film, find 
herself unable to get further employment; or, if she is already 

1 The Daily Express, July 11, 1927. 



160 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

well established, discover that she can no longer command so 
high a salary." 1 

It should be said the cost of such shows is very heavy, 
especially when, as sometimes happens, it becomes necessary to 
buy out a super-cinema for use for three or four successive ex- 
hibitions from ii a.m. till midnight. The midnight exhibitions 
are on the increase, and on special occasions are " champagne 
and oysters," which the critics and editorial staffs of newspapers 
have no objection to consume. 

H. Content 

I. INTENTIONAL 
A. THE ABYSSES OF HUMANITY : AMERICAN ECONOMIC CIVILISATION 

TO-DAY 

From manufacturer to showman. From machine to 
mouth. From a barn factory to world domination. Unity of 
production-distribution-exhibition interests. The mania for 
building-buying-controlling cinemas. Such being the sum of 
the processes necessary to evolve the complete machinery to 
bring the golden commodity to market so as to secure that it 
shall be eaten. Underlying the processes and setting them in 
motion are the policies, principles, methods, technique by which 
the all-powerful Film Kings built the Mighty House of Holly- 
wood, as just described. 

What was this magic commodity that satisfied the multifari- 
ous appetite of the universal Man? What was the content that 
squeezed the golden stream from the universal Pocket? What, 
in other words, was the content of the mass-produced 
standardised picture that sent this " soulless " product careering 
gaily through all lands cap in hand for bright pennies, as though 
holding out a sanctified collection plate? Many persons will 
tell you that it was intentionally composed of trash, a dolled-up 
procuress intended to prostitute the Cinema to the pursuit of 

i The Sunday News, September 8, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 161 

gain, just as art to-day is a procuress. This opinion may not 
be flattering to the Cinema Overlords. Is it true? Not alto- 
gether. For as I have shown and shall show still further, they 
used ingredients that admitted an unintentional purpose capable 
of fulfilling the good demands of an audience possessed of more 
than a wish to buy. So the commodity was not such a Holly- 
wood miscarriage after all. 

If you were to ask the powerful magnates whether they are 
guilty of the charge of conspiring to cheat the universal Man 
of his ha'pence, they would probably reply that they claim that 
they buy the best available materials with which to manufacture 
their commodities, that money and research can procure. That 
they employ the best organisers, salesmen, technicians, directors, 
producers, scenario and story writers, designers, players, talent 
of every sort, and the best public moods suited to their real 
aim of attaining the perfectibility of the picture. Moreover 
they are at heart real public benefactors. They have long 
wished for an opportunity to demonstrate this side of their 
character. But circumstances have been against them. Now,, 
however, in the full tide of their prosperity, they intend to set 
aside millions from their profits for public benefactions. For 
proof, not long ago, there was William Fox proposing to put 
down ^5,000,000 for educational purposes. There are the 
Warner Brothers proposing to set apart untold millions to be 
returned as a sort of bonus to the widows and orphans who 
have bought their pictures at from threepence to a shilling 
apiece. 

Yet in spite of these assurances of goodwill, and of the 
intention to continue the march towards perfectibility, one has 
an uneasy feeling that all is not right with the best of cinema 
worlds. The Overlords may be in their heaven, but there are 
departments missing from it. One is an advisory department 
wherein may be found a consultative body of authorities in all 
departments of those special branches of knowledge, scientific 
and other, which demand to be applied to the making of a 



162 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

perfect, say, historical picture. For lack of such a department 
the Hollywood historical picture is calculated to make one 
shudder. Well informed persons greet it with the cry of 
" trash," and no wonder. 

Though the golden-tinted banner of perfectibility has been 
waving from the gleaming pinnacles of Hollywood so long, there 
are critics who still tell you that the commodity produced is 
a debased and debasing affair, and if asked for the recipe invari- 
ably point to one that runs: Take a primitive story. Add fifty 
per cent of excitement; thirty per cent of " sex appeal ", ten 
per cent of photographic atmosphere and ten per cent of senti- 
ment. Mix well, and serve up hot. 1 

This however disposes of the matter too summarily. Tests 
have proved that the content of the American picture is not 
empty air alone. It has a substance of a sociological nature 
and value whence proceeds both the nausea of the mass-product 
of the mammonised Film industry, and the odour of sanctity. 
When we come to analyse the content we find it is, in fact, made 
up of an expression of American economic and jazz civilisation. 
To give it an international flavour other civilisations are added, 
such as bits of the Russian associative civilisation; the Italian 
Fascist civilisation; the English Financial Age civilisation, and 
so on. All these ingredients are poured into the witch's 
cauldron at Hollywood. If we want a description of the kind 
of sociological broth of man in society that issues from the 
cauldron here we have it stated in the words of a sociologist who 
is writing: not of the Cinema but of the conditions of the indi- 
vidual and society to-day. 

" The educated man is a creature of Metropolis cut off as 
never before from all contact with reality. He is enmeshed in 
technicalities. He is never trained to form a synthetic view of 
his world, or rather is hampered by ignorance or prevented by 
fear from doing so. Thus his whole mind works on verbal 
lines and is governed by opinion as expressed in writing or in 

i See " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929, p. xix. 



ACTUALITIES 163 

speech. He never reaches knowledge that comes from an in- 
formed study of facts. 

The Society in which that man lives, which moulds him to 
this pattern, is in turn moulded by him. Like him it is based 
on opinion. Cruelties and oppressions which a strong tyrant 
would justify or remedy are explained by sophistry or lies. All 
debate in politics or economics is so mere (much?) opinion. 
Theories of reform are evolved out of air and argued with use- 
less and ludicrous zeal." 1 

Substitute critic for " educated man " and how aptly the 
first paragraph of this quotation describes a predominating type 
of present-day critic and reviewer. There is no doubt that a 
great deal of the regression and growing decadence of Society, 
both in America and out of it, is thrown upon the screen. But 
the facts portrayed do not differ from those exhibited by the 
early spectacles. By a laborious process the disease that charac- 
terised the Roman and other historical orgies, is made to appear 
that which characterises the cabaret orgies of the fashionable 
spectacle to-day. The symptoms are identical in both. But by 
reclothing the types that manifest them, by giving them the 
air of interpreting and explaining the age in which they now 
exist, by unintentionally making them demonstrate by means of 
" stunts " some of the significant conclusions and facts of 
twentieth century scientific thought, the picture makers lead us 
to believe that we are watching present-day men and society in 
a present-day environment. But human beings seen in the 
American picture are not changed according to the actual change 
now sweeping over the whole world. They are at bottom 
primitives. Douglas Fairbanks as Petruchio is simply 
Petruchio as Douglas Fairbanks; Tom Mix, the splendid cow- 
boy, is merely the primitive hunter astride a noble steed and 
armed with a never failing deadly lasso. The study placed 
before us by the American Film Kings (if it may be called a 
study) is evolution, the kind of evolution that argues that actu- 

1 Geoffrey Davis, in " The Sociological Review," January, 1930. 



164 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ally very little or no evolution has taken place since the dawn 
of what is called " civilisation." The fisher on the sea-shore in 
the old days is now the proprietor of the multiple fish-shop. At 
bottom he is no different from his primitive prototype who sold 
his small catch for a few pence or exchanged it for a utility. If 
he appears different it is because artificial wealth has brought 
into existence an artificial environment under which he buries 
his real identity. Revolution not evolution is the factor that 
is now changing society and setting up new needs and desires 
and has evoked a new social organisation that seeks to get itself 
fulfilled. But social revolution, the complete change of society 
under the touch of a new and vital vision of human life has 
yet to make its appearance in the American picture, and in the 
pictures of most other countries for the matter of that. 

2. unintentional: sociological values 

a. american economic and jazz civilisations 

From this it may be gathered that the American picture, 
even at its worst, may be sociologically considered. Intention- 
ally it reflects the kind of American economic civilisation which 
has moulded the Hollywood Film King, and is in turn moulded 
by him as a best seller. Accordingly, he has seized the three 
aspects of the great epic of the Far West, the primitive one of 
mountains and wide wastes and cowboys, Indians and 
brigands in their glory of hunting and conflict; the transitional 
one of the land grabber and the man skinner; and the latter-day 
commercial one of the man with a machine and the plan of 
the mammonised city. He has made a saleable commodity of 
them and brought them to market. He has seized too the 
sensational aspects of the more recent American jazz civilisation, 
and presented man as " a creature of Metropolis " cut off from 
contact with reality, and enmeshed in jazz technicalities that 
completely prevent him from taking any view of existence 
except that governed by money and its vices, avarice, gambling, 



ACTUALITIES 165 

debauchery, social crime, lies and base opinion as expressed 
verbally or in print. 

In these two subjects is contained sociological matter of 
extreme importance. They offer a contrast between the old 
and the new Americanisation, between races and types — types 
evolved, on the one hand, by contact with nature, on the other, 
by separation from it. On the one hand, we have Man and 
Labour or his occupations as at the dawn of the human world; 
on the other, Man and Money cut off from natural relations 
and sources of inspiration, entombed in a Metropolis where 
he has become solitary, nasty, ugly, brutish and bestial — a moron. 

Two subjects so sociological as Man in a Life-centred en- 
vironment, and Man in a Death-centred environment cannot be 
prevented from transmitting gleams of true sociology no matter 
how thickly they are coated with the picture maker's and seller's 
sticky sensation and sentiment. They are capable indeed of 
feeding the sociological sensibility of an audience, even if very 
primitively employed, as in many Western pictures they actually 
are. Hence the unintentional sociology of the Far West and 
the Jazz civilisation pictures — pictures that contain material 
objects that the audience is able to clothe with its wishes or 
desires. Elsewhere I have illustrated this process. I have told 
the story of whole populations in the grip of the basic emotion 
of Fear and its system of emotions, taking their wishes for relief 
from this awful tyranny to the Cinema and obtaining satis- 
faction from heroes and heroines whom desire or wish turn into 
gods and saints. 

The causes of reactions to unintentional elements contained 
in American national and international pictures, as well as to 
the content of many German pictures (which I shall consider 
presently) are contained in the following syllabus of a lecture 
course given by the gifted editor of " The Quest " G. R. S. 
Mead. 1 The subjects dealt with are those of the ancient com- 
plexes inhering in the collective subconscious. They include 

1 The Quest Society, Lecture Syllabus, February, 1930. 



i66 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

"" the Unseen and the Primitive; The Medicine Man and his 
Craft; Disease and Demon Possession; Healing Wonders and 
Incubation; Magic and Magical Religions; Mystery Cults and 
Initiations, and Esoteric Disciplines." That these complexes 
manifest themselves to-day in revivalism, religious and other, 
must be very clear to anyone who studies the great daily news- 
papers. Probably they are common to mankind. If so it ac- 
counts for a reading of the function of the Cinema by the public 
which is unsuspected by the makers and sellers of pictures as 
well as by that innocent functionary, the Censor. 

Provided with the above key and American national and 
international picture subjects, it is easy to discover what mean- 
ings the collective subconscious is likely to read into them. 



I. 2. 3. THE PRIMITIVE: TRANSITIONAL I AND PRESENT 

FAR WEST 

Here is a big Production Company's description of the 
content of a Western : 

The passing cowboy: 

" Although the cowboy is slowly vanishing, he is still the 
envy of young and old alike. Many people find more real 
adventure in bowed legs, buckskin trousers and a sombrero than 
in all the thrills of modern inventors. This is the reflection of 
Ken Maynard, star of the First National Pathe picture, ' The 
Devil's Saddle.' Slowly, but surely, the great open spaces of 
America have been conquered by the telephone, the telegraph, 
the motor car, wireless and most deadly of all, the railways. 
The cowboy of the west and his brother of the La Plata pampas, 
the gaucho are engaged in a losing fight against progress. The 
cowboy of the plains, from Texas to Montana, was a gallant 
fellow. Dependent on his agility, particularly in the use of a 
rifle, he used literally to carry his life in his hands. Living close 
to nature, so to speak, and relying on his own powers to con- 



ACTUALITIES 167 

<juer distance, heat, cold, rain, hunger and thirst, his knowledge 
was little short of astonishing. A good cowboy could find his 
way about unknown country. He could trace cattle after they 
had strayed for miles. Away from civilisation, he developed an 
intuitive knowledge almost accurately described as a sixth sense. 
Ability to stand fatigue and pain, sturdiness of character, loyalty 
to his friends leavened even the worst cowboys." 1 

Bandits past and present: 

" The First National Pathe picture, ' Hav/k of the Hills/ 
unfolds a richly dramatic story of Montana in the 7o's. Like 
other newly discovered countries, Montana attracted all sorts of 
people, good and bad. The struggles between these two oppos- 
ing factors formed the basis of many stories. ' The Hawk ' is a 
ruthless bandit suppressed only after many exciting experi- 
ences. But for rare hold-ups occurring at long intervals, we in 
the United Kingdom, could almost disbelieve in the existence 
of bandits. Yet visitors to Albania and the wilder parts of 
Macedonia, not to mention areas further East, testify to the fact 
that bandits are a real menace to the safety and comfort of 
travellers. At the same time, there is good reason to believe 
that this admittedly picturesque form of robbery will eventually 
be stamped out. The forces of law and order are better 
equipped to-day for this purpose and highway robbery on an 
organised scale must be a ticklish business for desperadoes now 
that there is every possibility of detection and even attack from 
the air. What were the experiences and feelings of travellers 
long ago when routes passed through countries widi natural 
defences suitable for the bandits' operations? " 2 

The backwoods lumber industry : 

" The Redwoods of California, many of them 300 feet high 
and twelve feet in diameter, form the background of the First 
National Pathe picture. ' The Valley of the Giants,' starring 

1 First National Pathe Publicity Sheet, October 22, 1928. 

2 First National Pathe Publicity Sheet, September 3, 1928. 



168 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Milton Sills, with Doris Kenyon. The film is an adaptation 
of the novel of the same name by Peter B. Kyne and deals with 
life in a wild country, where there is no place for a weakling. 
Sills is seen as the son of a timber baron. No one can complain 
that the big scenes in the First National Pathe picture, ' The 
Valley of the Giants/ are not true to life. They are made in 
the redwood area of California with men ordinarily employed 
as loggers taking part." 1 

Here is a vivid description of a temporary revival of an 
amazing epoch of human life in the Far West, recalling a 
scene from an early " Gold Rush " : 

" The wild, woolly West has come to life again. Frontier 
days are not dead. Romantic frontier life with its picturesque 
characters, its suave, gun-belted, top-booted gamblers, its sheriffs 
— complete with silver star on shirt — its painted women, its 
cowpunchers, its card sharpers, its prospectors, and its comple- 
ment of ' tin-horns ' and ' sourdoughs,' is very much alive ! 

:< The scene of its resuscitation is the little town of Las 
Vegas, New Mexico, and the reason for its rapid rebirth lies in 
the opening operations now in force in building the giant 
Boulder dam, which, at a cost, it is said, of ^25,000,000, is to 
irrigate thousands of miles of hitherto unclaimed desert land. 

" If you look for Las Vegas on the map you will not see it. 
A world gazeteer will tell you that it is a little town of some 
three thousand odd inhabitants, and in Las Vegas, prior to the 
dam project, the sole pastime of the greater number of the 
inhabitants lay in parading down to the railway station to 
see the coastbound fliers boom past, and to greet the evening 
mail train with its clanging bell and booming siren announcing 
its arrival out of the sandy wastes. . . . It is a surprising 
sight, is Las Vegas, this 1929 as ever was. Shut your eyes for a 
minute and picture it. The long, low roofs of the temporary 
buildings, the crazy, leaning telegraph poles, the dust, the horses, 
the parked motor-cars, the little bunches of Indians peddling 

1 First National Path6 Publicity Sheet, October 8, 1928. 



ACTUALITIES 169 

beads and moccasins on the ' street corners,' the working gangs, 
the cowboys, the sheriff's posses, the women and the gamblers, 
the coatless sombrero-hatted prospectors, the engineers, and the 
thousand and one types which you only see on the ' movies ' — 
all of them talking money, thinking money, making it, losing 
it, winning it, stealing it. . . . 

" A Calif ornian newspaper describing it the other day, 
said : * Las Vegas is the beginning of the end of frontier days 
in America. . . . It is also the sight of one of the greatest 
engineering projects in human history.' ' n 

The typical Far West. Who could not but feel that these 
wonderful sights, these contrasting types — each man and 
woman being highly individualised, yet all fitted into the en- 
vironment that produced the labour that produced them — 
needed only actual portrayal to exert an influence on even the 
dullest audience. Here we have the primitive man and his 
craft. Gods and demons. The love and glory of miraculous 
horses and dogs. Eugenic types. " Tom Mix is the most per- 
fect specimen of manhood I have ever seen." 2 Ken Maynard 
is no less perfect. Hoot Gibson, and the rest of the open-air 
" heroes." Each is a part of universal nature. Each is fitted 
to Rx the attention of the woman audience upon the perfect 
partner. 

B. AMERICAN JAZZ CIVILISATION 

Likewise the portrayal of American Jazz Civilisation is a 
method of hypnotising, but not so salutary as that of the Western 
Civilisation. The collective subconscious would probably en- 
shroud it in Disease and Demon Possession. In many respects 
it exerts a bad influence, though not upon students and trained 
sociologists. America is flung upon the screen like a jazz-band 
' Talkie." We see a mass of figures moulded and stirred by 
curious jazz rhythms. They form a conduit pipe from the 

1 The Daily Express, March 1, 1929. 

2 Mrs. Elinor Glyn, The Evening News, November 30, 1929. 



170 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Jazz Metropolis to the audience, a pipe through which pours 
noisy and barbarous jazz morals, jazz fashions, jazz thoughts, 
ideas, sentiments, jazz customs, that stress and strain the 
spectator's nerves. Sometimes they fall together and take shape 
as a vague world in which all the passions are black, and all 
the music comes from broken reeds. This commodity is ex- 
ploited and sold in the form of pictures portraying man in a 
society mainly actuated by lust nourished on the greed of gold, 
and tempered by sickly sentimentality. In pre-Talkie days the 
Jazz motives were shown invading the home. They appeared 
in portrayals of sex and social relations, such as courtship, 
marriage, divorce, gambling, parasitism, and larger outbursts of 
the Jazz mania in scenes of social debauchery. Also as unspeak- 
able forms of crime. In these Talkie days the disease is shown 
invading all public places. It is exhibited on an unprecedented 
scale as a kind of organised emotion that invades all the fashion- 
able haunts of American society, cabarets, variety theatres; every 
place of entertainment and recreation, in fact, gains a notoriety 
as the rendezvous of the Great Jazz Maniacs. This Jazz civilisa- 
tion is portrayed in such pictures as " Restless Youth," ' The 
Gamblers," (the religion of the Stock Market), " Syncopation " 
(a mad Jazz world), " Stolen Kisses," " Confessions of a Wife," 
" The Escape; a daring drama of night clubs, bootleggers, and 
dancing girls," and " Half Marriage." 

Some critics maintain that the portrayal of this Jazz civilisa- 
tion is worthless because it falsifies the actual civilisation out of 
all sense. It is converted into such an immense and intense 
commercial stunt that nothing remains but a hideous nightmare 
— which is only a screen nightmare. This might be true if it 
were not true that the big American Production companies have 
thrown upon the screen one or two faithful pictures of social 
and factory life at Hollywood which, while tending to question 
the honesty and morality of same of the Hollywood folk, prove 
incontestibly that the Film Kings do not hesitate to tell the truth 
at times, even though in doing so they foul their own nests. 



ACTUALITIES 171 

What I mean by " fouling their own nests " is exhibiting a 
picture that portrays a discreditable incident in a studio. 
" Hollywood not only brings the (Film Studio) scandals to light 
but, as in the case of the S.M.M., exploits them for Box Office 
profit." 1 

No one who knows New York can deny that it is capable 
of yielding abundant facts of a death-centred civilisation. A 
civilisation, that is, that equals those of Babylon and Rome at 
their worst. They are facts of a dollar civilisation. If there be 
a worse form of civilisation I do not know where to find it. 
Such facts are sociological ones piled up on the Jazz spectacle 
for those who have eyes to see. As for the subconscious it 
could go muck-raking in the portrayed Metropolis of Spiritual 
Decay and emerge with a very big armful of ancient complexes 
of Demons and Death. 

c. The True Laughter of America 

The maker of the Jazz civilisation picture could no more 
keep sociological facts out of it than he could keep them out of 
the famous American comedy picture, commonly known as the 
" slapstick," the nature and value of which I have already ex- 
plained. 

Nor could he exclude it from another laughter maker of a 
unique kind. I allude to the moving cartoon drawn by hand — 
the hand-made moving picture as opposed to the photographed 
one. An outstanding example appears in the Mickey Mouse 
cartoon by Walt Disney. In an early chapter of this book I 
have pointed out that this cartoon is composed of an elastic 
line which assumes an unending variety of whimsical shapes 
representing objects in the human, animal and insect spheres, 
but deprived of those shapes, gestures and movements with 
which we are familiar and given others that perform the meta- 
physical trick of exchanging Appearance for Reality. We are 

1 G. A. Atkinson, in The Sunday Express, August 18, 1929. 



172 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

shown Man and his companions (in the Darwinian sense) con- 
tinuously undergoing metamorphosis, battered into real shapes by 
surroundings, circumstance, and contact. Such shapes touch 
the primitive and subconscious in us, and move us to gargan- 
tuan laughter. They are full of social attributes which we have 
no difficulty in relating to those that come within our actual 
experience. 

A critic commenting upon an entire programme of Walt 
Disney sound cartoons of Mickey Mouse and The Silly Sym- 
phonies, said, " Disney shows nature's insect underworld and 
some of the overworld capering with joy over the advent of 
Spring." 1 He was alluding to the " Spring Time " cartoon. As 
v/e know the distinguished French biologist Fabre made a pro- 
found study of the lives and habits of social insects. Dealing 
with the subject of " The Social Insects, their origin and evolu- 
tion;" a writer observes, " Of all infra-human societies those of 
the social insects are at once the most complex and most amaz- 
ing. . . . Social organisation at various levels has been 
found to occur in at least thirty different groups belonging to 
eight widely differing orders of insects — beetles, ants, and 
wasps (Hymenoptera), earwigs, crickets, termites and several 
others. Twelve of these thirty groups have become ' definitely 
social.' Professor Wheeler concentrates on the wasps, bees, ants 
and termites, where insect societies are seen at their highest 
level. They are very ancient societies tiiese. In comparison 
human society is an evolutionary development of yesterday." 2 

D. EUROPEAN AND ENGLISH POST-WAR CIVILISATIONS 
A. INGREDIENTS 

A large part of Hollywood production is, as I have pointed 
out, carried on to satisfy the demands of foreign countries, and 
the pictures so produced undergo a process of adaptation to suit 

1 G. A. Atkinson, in The Sunday Express, January 26, 1930. 

2 "The Sociological Review," 1930. 



ACTUALITIES 173 

the different demands of different peoples and censorships., 
Hence alterations, fakings and sabotage. But in spite of this 
treatment, the pictures retain elements that stir the subconscious. 
Moreover the intensification of " stunt " effects as in " sex 
appeal," has been the means of putting on the screen many 
material objects that serve to demonstrate the conclusions reached 
by advanced scientists, in particular in the sphere of sex. Thus 
we have the strange fact of commercial sensationalism contri- 
buting to scientific advance. 

If we examine the American pictures that have been offered 
for sale in Europe, and in particular, in this country since the 
War we shall find that they exploit broadly speaking three sub- 
jects, in order of supply and demand, Sex, War and Crime. 
That is, these subjects have been sold wholesale in this country 
in the form of pictures, just as the War has been exploited on an 
enormous scale by writers who have seized an unprecedented 
opportunity of selling it and thereby have undoubtedly 
reaped huge profits. 

The supply was brought into existence by circumstances due 
to the War. A universal consequence of the War was a state 
of mind bordering on mental anarchy. In every country 
affected by the War there arose an unparalleled craving for 
sensation and excitement. Human beings were tired and in- 
different. Their thought and action were characterised by lack 
of control, lack of inhibitions, by physical nervous and moral 
exhaustion. To meet this mental situation came a long succes- 
sion of sensational and exciting pictures which fell into three 
main categories, — Sex and Love; War, international and 
national; and Crime or civil war, that is, war on property. To 
attract a paying public with no palate for fare save that served 
up hot and strong, it was necessary to raise interpretation and 
representation to the highest level of sensation and excitement 
and to add as many varieties of the exploited emotion as possible. 
In " Abe's Irish Rose " there were no less than nine varieties of 
love. 



174 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Analysis reveals that all three elements Sex, War and 
Crime, entered into the composition of post-war American pic- 
tures. In addition, there were odds and ends of nationalism, 
patriotism, publicity, advertisement, and other American 
specialities, such as Youth and Beauty. But Sex (or Love) pre- 
dominated. This fact has not escaped the notice of many acute 
observers, and vitriolic critics. Here is Mr. George Jean 
Nathan's observation and criticism, " The moving pictures, for 
all of the Will Hays pious hoopdoodle, go in for blasphemy and 
foul language that exceed anything in print, and cunningly 
excite the eroticism of susceptible youth with comely females 
in the nude. If a writer were to employ such execrations as 
are clearly and plainly conveyed on the screens by such films as 
" The Big Parade," " What Price Glory," and " Old Ironsides," 
the post-office would be on his neck in a jiffy." 1 " The Big 
Parade " was the war film that gave great offence to France and 
to this country by its American propaganda. Again, speaking 
in public, Mr. Bernard Shaw said, " The whole business of 
choosing programmes is carried out by gentlemen whom we call 
exhibitors, incurably romantic persons, who think that nine- 
tenths of a film should consist of what they call ' sex-appeal.' " 2 
This was the occasion on which Mr. Shaw remarked, " If you 
offered me the opportunity of kissing Miss Pickford I should 
enjoy it, but not if I were watched by a crowd." 3 

Further : 

' We are still overshadowed by the hysteria and the urge 
to live recklessly for the moment that were bred in the days of 
the Great War. Physical life becomes infinitely precious in 
the face of death; and though we are ten years away from that 
period of ecstasy and animalism we have not emerged from the 
mental morass which it engendered. Sex in all its attributes 
was summoned to the surface by the war; and we still move 

1 The American Mercury, March, 1927. 

2 The Daily Express, November 19, 1927. 
s Ibid. 












r" c 




'MjjkR 


■^ ■ 






H^flHP 


-~- 













1928 Fox early sound picture. Mr. Bernard Shaw on the movie- 
tone. The photographs gain their strange appearance from being taken 
direct from the film as is proved by the sound track showing on the edge. 
See the Appendices for Mr. Shaw's frank explanation of his intention to 
show Fon how to make a movietone picture. Fox Newspaper Service 
of June 25, 1928, contains a lengthy explanation of Mr. Shaw's extra- 
ordinary facial gymnastics." 



ACTUALITIES 175 

and think — aided by books, films, and plays — in a welter of 

sex." 1 

SENSATIONALISM : SCIENCE AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS 

I. Sexology 

By all accounts, " sex-appeal " has been and still is 
supremely important from the Film Kings' point of view. 

What is " sex-appeal "? It seems to be bound up with 
extreme eroticism, sexual mania, sheer animalism. On the pic- 
tures it usually manifests itself in an orgy of registering passion. 
M. Andre Maurois gives the following definition : " Sex-appeal 
is the power which enables one human being to arouse in others 
by his presence emotions of sex — conscious or unconscious." 2 
That is, a power possessed by a man or a woman to communi- 
cate his or her sexual feelings to each other and to the widest 
circle of people. This definition is important in view of the 
effect of " sex-appeal " upon an audience. 

One of the most interesting effects of the insistence by 
producers on the use of " sex-appeal " as a box office attraction, 
and the intensification of the expression of the emotion in order 
to stimulate the interest of a tired-out population, has been that 
of bringing the portrayal of " sex-appeal " well within the region 
of that branch of up-to-date science, known as sexology. " The 
conventions of the civilised world," said Mr. Bernard Shaw, " do 
not permit us to present certain physical phases of love on the 
stage." 3 If the conclusions to which sociologists have come, 
and which may be examined in a number of recent important 
works on sexology, 4 be correct, then the physical phases of love 
are being presented both on the stage and on the screen. 

What are the conclusions of sexologists? 1. That sex is 
no longer confined to morals, but is one of the mainsprings of 

1 F. G. H. Salusbury, Daily Express, September 11, 1929. 

2 The Sunday Dispatch, November 11, 1929. 

3 See The Sunday Express, November 10, 1929. 

* See, for instance, " Sex in Civilisation " : a symposium edited by 
V. F. Calverton. 



176 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

human thought and actions. 2. That the physical phases of 
love (or commerce) are not confined to any one part of the 
human body, but are common to all parts. That is, there are 
physical doubles. Hence there is a sex pantomime when all 
the physical doubles of the sexual parts (or actually sexual parts 
themselves), tongue, lips, glands, muscles, breasts, etc., come 
into pantomimic action which may be observed by anyone who 
watches a stage or a screen couple in a prolonged passionate em- 
brace. It is maintained that the organs of sex have their 
counterparts even in the organs of speech. 

I remember seeing a set of drawings by Mr. Wyndham 
Lewis, expressing human beings completely changed by 
sexual desire. The whole human body was shown responding 
to sexual excitement, and what was experienced erotically in 
one part was so experienced in many parts. There was one 
drawing in particular, that struck me. I think it was called 
" Seraglio." A female was shown offering lips, face, neck, 
shoulders, arms, breasts, to the male's eager lips. Another was 
called, I think, " Post-Jazz." It was a study of the change 
wrought in male and female figures by the sexual excitement of 
the jazz dance. Last summer I saw at the New Burlington 
Galleries a very important exhibition of paintings by the Spanish 
painter, Signor Frederico Beltran-Masses. Among them was a 
study of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova. The latter, 
it will be recalled, made the decorations from designs by Aubrey 
Beardsley for the silent picture of Oscar Wild's " Salome " 
in which Salome appears trying to vamp John the Baptist, after 
the conception of Wilde, and failing, demands his head, and 
gets it. Wilde — Beardsley — Rambova. I was struck by the 
strong resemblance of some of the details in the Beltran-Masses 
painting to some in Mr. Wyndham Lewis' " Seraglio." 
Valentino is shown supporting a half-swooning woman with 
head thrown back, and face, lips, neck, all eager for the pas- 
sionate kisses which one feels are coming from the male figure 
whose face, set with a mystical, emotional expression as of one 



ACTUALITIES 177 

who is escaping from actuality into a world of intense eroticism, 
is slowly approaching hers. It was not hard to read into these 
two figures the physical phases of " Seraglio " although they 
are not definitely expressed by the painter, who is more con- 
cerned with expressing the serpent-like look of fascination of 
Valentino resembling that which characterises the majority of 
his portraits of Spanish women. The painting illustrates the 
fascination stage of Valentino's act of passionate love making. 

In reviewing the book on " Sex in Civilisation " for one or 
two London newspapers, I came across chapters which analyse 
the technique of what I may call the all-body contact, and 
describe the method, and catalogue the various parts that come 
into action under the stimulation of physical contact. In apply- 
ing my knowledge of sexology to the " sex-appeal " figures on the 
screen, I have borne in mind what I once learned from a little 
book 1 by that authority on psychology of sex, Dr. Havelock 
Ellis. It taught me that not only the display of bare flesh, 
naked breasts, arms, legs, etc.; but details of a woman's wearing 
apparel, stockings, garters, underlinen; and beyond this acts, 
such as a man stroking a woman's legs, constitute erotic sym- 
bolism which excites sexual feeling. 2 

The fashion in " sex-appeal " pictures, especially of the 
" It " variety, and in " Great Lovers," " Sheik," " He-Man," 
and " Vamp " types, together with the use of the close up, 
have served to demonstrate sexological theories by revealing facts 
upon which they are based. Anyone who watches a picture 
which portrays an orgy of eroticism can easily detect the physical 
phases, or the external signs of complex sexual processes. In 
my experience, the close up has revealed a large variety of 
signs, such as the swollen thyroid gland, swollen muscles of neck 
and arms, and various other changes, together with such 
physical contacts as tongues, lips, necking, caressing and fondling 
sensitive parts. 

1 " Erotic Symbolism," by Havelock Ellis. 

2 See " The New Spirit in the European Theatre," Huntly Carter. 



178 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

This public exhibition of sexual technique probably gains 
its scientific value from the fact that the technique is not guess- 
work but a carefully thought out system of movements by which 
the actor seeks to express the true facts of sexual pursuit, ap- 
proach and possession, and moreover strives to reach the most 
intense climax of the love passion. An example of this mastery 
of technique may be seen in the Sheik pictures of Rudolph 
Valentino the sometime dancing partner. There is no doubt 
that Valentino was a master of sexual technique and action. He 
owed a great deal of his success in oictures and his strange in- 
fluence over women to the degree of perfection to which he 
attained in screen passionate love making. He took the matter 
seriously and it appears went to the length of working accord- 
ing to a formula, either of his own, or attributed to him by 
publicity agents. 

Here it is : 

" Meantime, Rudolph Valentino, the ' prince ' of lovers, 
has been all but monopolising the cinemas this week in ' The Son 
of the Sheik.' 

" Some of the advertisements associated with this produc- 
tion are of the most exotic kind. 

" I have been reading one called ' The Technique of a 
Kiss,' which is explained in the following terms : — 

" 1. The Approach. — This calls for a musing smile, a 
melting gaze, and a tensing of the warm handclasp. 

" 2. Fascination. — This is the mesmeric moment — the 
registry of dominant will — a fleeting but significant mood. 

" 3. The Dramatic Pause. — This indicates the method of 
mastery, a delicious delay, eloquent of intense affection. 

" 4. The Burning Climax. — A crushing impact of lips — 
the swooning submission — and bliss ! 

" The ' technique ' is illustrated by Mr. Valentino with 
the aid of Miss Banky. 

" It defies comment." 1 
1 G. A. Atkinson, in The Daily Express, November 19, 1926. 



ACTUALITIES 179 

It is the second stage which marks the aforementioned 
painting of Valentino and Rambova, by Frederico Beltran- 
Masses. 

Such then is the scientific value of the marketing (uninten- 
tional as I have said) of the perfect lover with the perfect formula 
of sexual approach, fascination, dramatic pause, and burning 
climax, and the consequent physical contacts and signs with 
which the sexologist is preoccupied to-day. 

There is another unsuspected value which I shall call the 
religious one. It is abstracted by the audience which, unac- 
quainted with its scientific value, approaches the " sex-appeal " 
picture through the subconscious only, and the result makes its 
appearance in the forms of ancient fetish worship, idolatories, 
religious superstitions, hero worship and so on. 

To the close observer of the screen life and death of 
Rudolph Valentino, there is an outstanding circumstance, one of 
which the future historian of the cinema star will no doubt take 
note, that fixes the attention upon this popular screen player. 
Before his death he was the object of a peculiar idolatrous wor- 
ship which has no parallel in the history of the screen star. 
Other stars have excited the hysterical applause of the universal 
cinema-goer, and dying have received a homage out of all pro- 
portion to their value as human beings and public servants. 
There is for example, the case of Wallis Reid, (mentioned by 
a well-known writer), who, when he died, like Valentino, a 
pitiful death, was the object of the most amazing public display 
of sympathy. " From one end of the States to the other, the 
film-loving public flamed up in the deepest emotion. Articles 
appeared everywhere when Wallace Reid died which would 
have given any who read them without knowing who he was 
the impression that they were the obituaries of some hero who 
died while saving his country from great dangers." 1 I do 
not know whether Reid was deified after his death, whether 
societies were formed for the purpose of perpetuating his 

1 Miss Rebecca West, in " The Realist/' June, 1929. 



i8o THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

memory and worshipping at his shrine. But I do know that 
Valentino has become an object of adoration, and that societies 
have been established for the purpose of crowning his memory 
with the nimbus of saint, or something near it. I pick up a 
few newspapers at random and I read these headlines: 
' Valentino's Devotees," " Quarrels Between Rival Sects," 1 
" Valentino Worship," ' Memorial Service to Dead Film 
Star,' " " Women's Slogan," 2 " Women Weep for Valentino," 
" Crowded Memorial Service," " Intense Feeling," 3 " Dis- 
coverer of Valentino," " Dies at The Theatre," 4 " Valentino 
Idolatry," " Valentino Pilgrims," " 150 To * Memorial Service ' 
in London," 5 " Memorial To Valentino," " Service in a London 
Cinema," " Hymns and Films." 6 

The following is instructive : 

" Thousands of women stormed the Shepherd's Bush 
Pavilion yesterday afternoon and evening to associate themselves 
with the ' Valentino Memorial Service,' performed in a * Temple 
of Remembrance ' which filled the whole stage. 

" Twelve thousand women attended yesterday's perform- 
ances, which included a revival of the dead ' star's ' most 
popular film, * Monsieur Beaucaire.' Many hundreds remained 
outside during the evening performance. 

" These women came from all over the country, from the 
far north of Scotland and the West of England. 

" Many came in motor-coaches, a long line of which stood 
outside the theatre. 

" There were scores of women bearing titles, I was told 
by the box office clerk. One of these women booked thirty- 
two seats. 

" They were quiet and dignified and, for the most part, 
of mature age. 

1 The Weekly Dispatch, November 4, 1928. 

2 The Daily Express. 

3 The Daily Express, July 26, 1927. 
« The Daily News, July 23, 1927. 

5 The Sunday Express, August 18th, 1929. 
• The Daily Express, July 6, 1927. 



ACTUALITIES 181 

" There was a great wave of excitement at the evening 
performance, when Mr. Ivor Novello came to place a bouquet 
of red roses in the ' Temple of Remembrance.' This 
' temple ' was a Roman-looking affair, with smoking 
censers and tall candlesticks on either side of a plinth, the lower 
step of which was decorated with the letters ' R.V.' A large 
wreath of laurel rested against it. 

" On top was a large picture of Valentino and the Italian 
flag. 

" Mr. Novello expressed the thought that it was ' a great 
thing to die at the height of fame.' 

" Signor Sideli sang Massenet's ' Elegie ' with such intense 
feeling that many of the women fell to weeping, but there were 
no ' scenes.' One might justly describe the proceedings as 
reverential. 

" A film called ' Reminiscences of Valentino ' was shown, 
obviously with the intention of disproving the charge of 
effeminacy which New York critics brought against the 
' star.' 

" This him showed Valentino, in the costume of an 
athlete, throwing heavy weights, boxing, and fencing. 

" It certainly proved that he had excellent muscles and the 
light bearing of a man in fine physical training. 

" It was noticeable that all the sub-titles were in the 
present tense, thus: 'Rudolph believes in fencing.' Mr. 
Novello's presence caused a great crowd of excited women 
and flappers to gather outside the theatre. 

' They were obviously of a type different from those who 
had come in memory of Valentino. 

" There must have been at least a thousand delirious girls 
outside the theatre when Novello came out to his car, taking 
me with him. 

" For a few breathless moments I enjoyed all the sensa- 
tions of being a film-star. Valentino was forgotten. 

' This wild scene was in sharp contrast to the mournful 



182 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

silence in the theatre." 1 Note the emphasis on women 
idolators. 

Of no less interest is Valentino's influence on the women 
stars. I read : " Polo Negri's Haunted Wedding Day," " Her 
Memories of Valentino." 

" A strange Rudolph Valentino note ran through the wed- 
ding of Pola Negri at her chateau at Seraincourt to-day. 

" In the morning the film star had made a little pilgrimage 
to the ancient tower which rises in front of her chateau. She 
had fitted up the tower as a shrine to the ' Sheik.' 

" In the afternoon she had dressed in her white velvet 
wedding dress in the three sunny rooms that she had set aside 
for her honeymoon with Rudolph when she bought the chateau 
two years ago. 

" Pola walked along among the innumerable photographs 
and other souvenirs which she retains of Rudolph Valentino 
until the village mayor, who had come to perform the ceremony, 
and the guests, became impatient. 

" Finally, at five o'clock, long past the time appointed for 
the wedding, the film star came slowly down the grand stairway 
of her castle on the arm of her future husband, Prince Serge 
Mdivani." 2 

" Men I Have Loved," " My Tragic First Lover," 3 " I have 
brought death to every man I have loved." 4 

Miss Pola Negri is celebrated for her performances as a 
" vamp." The female sex-appeal type of star is, like the male, 
capable of arousing intense emotion in an audience, as the fol- 
lowing extract concerning Miss Greta Garbo testifies : 

" Merely out of curiosity, I went into the new Empire 
Theatre last Sunday evening, just to see what it was the theatres 
were complaining about — I mean in regard to Sunday opening. 

" It was six o'clock, only an hour after tea-time, and 

i The Daily Express, July 2fi, 1927. 

2 Sunday Express, May 15, 1927. 

a Pola Negri, Series of Articles in Sunday Express, April 28, 1929. 

4 Pola Negri, in the Daily Express, May 1, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 183 

miles away from the places in which most Londoners live. Yet 
the place was crowded. 

" There was no special attraction that I know — just a poor 
film version of ' Baby Cyclone,' which failed here as a play, 
and an ordinary spy melodrama, in which I saw Greta Garbo 
for the first time. 

" G. A. Atkinson had called her ' the super-vamp,' referred 
to her ' kissing orgies,' and ' osculatory strength.' I did not 
think much of her. She was just one of those Northern 
blondes. 

" Yet the vast cinema was packed, and, long before the 
second house opened, nearly 600 people were standing at the 
back, five deep, and there was a queue outside that went half 
round the Empire block ! " x 

Why were audiences, and especially the women composing 
them, so strongly and strangely moved by Valentino's " sex- 
appeal "? There is nothing to show that he was not a respect- 
able man, or that he did anything more than raise his power 
of interpreting an intense love passion to the highest level. True 
he did not teach or preach love as Stendhal's " On Love " 
does, as a proposition in algebra, but more as Freud does. 
The explanation must be sought in the ancient complexes in- 
hering in the collective subconscious. An audience which wit- 
nesses a Valentino " sex-appeal " picture does not understand 
the scientific facts of the satisfaction of its sexual impulses, so 
the subconscious steps in and provides an explanation. 

Not long ago I read an important article by Miss Rebecca 
West in which she took the view that Americans are reading 
old religious ideas into present day social observances, and are 
clothing present-day secular forms with old myths. As an 
illustration she points to the widespread interest in the Cinema 
and its stars which amounts, she thinks, to idolatry and religious 
worship. The public has fixed its attention so strongly on the 
million dollar satellites that they have assumed the forms of 

1 Hannen Swaffer, in Daily Express, April 10, 1929. 



184 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ancient duties and saints. That is they have changed to types 
lingering in the subconscious thoughts of the Americans, in 
particular the women. " The film stars fall into categories. 
. . . Mary Pickford, who is the wife of Douglas Fairbanks, 
the apotheosis of the male on the screen, and yet is completely 
sexless in quality, clearly plays the part in America's imagina- 
tion of the virgin wife; Irene Rich, who has divorced her hus- 
band and lives an extremely public life of complete solitude 
with her two children, and is therefore an image of the Virgin 
Mother. There is the vamp, the always desired and ill-spoken- 
of Aphrodite." 1 

May it not be said that the extravagant worship of 
Valentino, the wild hysteria that was die cause of the three days 
lying in state of a dead cinema actor, was simply ancient 
Phallic worship. Who were the people that went to see the 
Valentino sex-appeal picture? Many of them were no doubt 
sexually starved women, sexually insane women, females suffer- 
ing from moral repression, women with a sublimation com- 
plex, women with minds running over with seminal waste, 
adolescents of both sexes seeking advice on sex relations, young 
people given to reading sex-appeal books whose minds are satur- 
ated with over-emotionalised ideas of sex, and who seek illustra- 
tions in " It " pictures. All these and more who are incapable 
of studying this type of picture scientifically and connecting it 
with the phenomenon of mania or disease, would exalt its 
principal character as God of the Generative Centre. In short 
it comes to what I have been saying all along. A very large 
proportion of cinema-goers visit the Cinema to see their wishes 
fulfilled. When they go to see a sex-appeal picture they take 
those sexual impulses which they wish to satisfy. 

Thus science will out even in the worst regulated picture. 
When we add to the exhibition of the picture, the darkened 
auditorium, the incantation of the orchestra, the attention fixed 

1 See " New Secular Forms of Old Religious Ideas," by Rebecca West. 
" The Realist," June, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 185 

on the illuminated scene in which seemingly sacred rites are 
being performed, it is not hard to believe that thereby every- 
thing is raised to that point which produces delirium, or that 
feeling of ecstasy which accompanies the act of initiation as in 
the process of religious conversion. It may be said that in the 
type of picture with which I am dealing, and which owes its 
origin mainly to the cinema trafficing and bargaining in 
sensation, there are other scientific facts unscientifically stated. 
For instance, students of Gymnosophy, or the science of naked- 
ness, can learn a great deal from the bathing babies, the nearly 
nude baby virgins, as the famous French actress, Yvette 
Guilbert, called the diminutive screen staresses. Love-making 
scenes on the beach when little is seen but the lovers' feet with 
the toes feverishly semaphoring messages to the unseen and the 
passionate, are instructive. In fact pictures of the " Nothing 
To Wear " type, indecent and offensive though they appear to 
some persons, have a present-day scientific value, i.e, Naked 
Culture. 

Then the orgy-of-kissing picture has something to offer the 
pathologist who is interested in the new attitude towards love- 
making. We have it on good authority that Bolshevist Russia 
has put kissing on the retired list, and here is the reason, " Thou 
Shalt Not Kiss ". " Moscow's Fiat, Latest Edict." " 40,000 
Bacteria as the Cost." A news story from Vienna that Bol- 
shevists • have awakened to the kiss peril. They are bent on 
placing hygiene first. 1 Certainly, in the Bolshevist love-making 
pictures such as " Moscow Laughs and Weeps " the kissing, 
such as it is, looks more like nose-rubbing. It reminds you of 
the sort of thing that you witness in that exceptionally fine 
piece of New Zealand publicity, the Maori picture " Under the 
Southern Cross " in which all the characters are played by 
natives. Here kissing by means of nose-rubbing is the fashion. 
The male and female noses strike each other with the impact of 
steel and tinder as though to kindle the sacred flame of love. 

1 The Daily Express, September 26, 1929. 



1 86 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

The use of the nose as Cupid's sparking plug has caught the 
attention of the Press, as witness the following: 

" Kissing, it is said, goes by favour. It no longer goes by 
favour of the hygienists. They frown upon the practice, de- 
claring that when lip is pressed to ecstatic lip a thousand re- 
pulsive micro-organisms seize upon the occasion to move to a 
new and more promising field of evil endeavour. It may be 
so, but there are, it would seem, other means of combating the 
evil than by abandoning kissing for, let us say, rubbing noses 
or some kindred rite. The correspondent of a contemporary 
reminds us in all seriousness that a little iodine rubbed on the 
lips is a reliable germifuge. Well iodined, we can osculate with 
no physical ill-results, whatever the emotional consequences may 
be. 

" In the interests of national hygiene the proposal should be 
developed. It is clear in the first place, that it should be suffi- 
cient if one pair of lips in every two concerned is sterilised. 
As men do not kiss each other (at present) in this country, it 
is obvious that some ingenious compound which combines the 
aseptic properties of iodine with the beautifying effects of lip- 
stick may yet lay the foundations of fame and fortune for some- 
body." 1 

Elsewhere we are reminded that there is " No Kissing in 
Japan." Kissing may be bestial, the cause of disease, a crime. 
" Lip contact has to be cut out of the close ups in the 
Japanese cinemas." 2 To persons of sense who know anything 
about bacteriology, kissing is a filthy habit. How dangerous it 
is, can be imagined, if we realise that one of the kissing couple 
may be suffering from virulent venereal disease. I remember 
one actor was, when playing juvenile lead in a sex-play. 

i The Evening News, April 26, 1928. 

2 The Daily Express, November 13, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 187 

2. War and Warology 

The second saleable commodity, in order, put on the 
market by the Film Kings in post-war days, is War. Sex comes 
first because its presence in pictures came earlier than that of 
War. 

' There was a time when few exhibitors would show a war 
film. People wanted to forget the war, they said. It was not 
possible, of course, to ignore it entirely. You cannot tell any 
story in which the characters are not young children without 
some reference to the war, but as far as possible it was never 
mentioned. As most films are American, that was not so very 
difficult. 

" But the great success of ' The Four Horsemen of the 
Apocalypse/ and ' The Big Parade ' changed the minds of 
American producers of films. And now we have ' What Price 
Glory? ' 

" It is curious how the tastes of cinema audiences change, 
for only a few years ago the finest war film ever made, 
' J 'Accuse ' was a dead failure in this country. That was really 
an imaginative film which neither stressed the brutality of war 
for the sake of sensation nor glossed it over with sentimen- 
tality." 1 

With the stirring up of public interest in war pictures came 
a flood of portrayals of different aspects of the Great War, 
which has not abated. I say different aspects, although when 
we come to examine these pictures we find that with few ex- 
ceptions they have much in common. They are in fact pictures 
of the War seen through the eyes of the entertainment Film 
King, the scenario writer and the producer. What there was 
of original truth in the stories whence they were derived has 
been almost left out. The little that remains gives them that 
unintentional purpose of sociological humanism and science to 
which I shall come presently. All are made to a box office 

1 E. A. Baughan, in The Daily News, March 16, 1927. 



1 88 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

pattern; all to stand up to be knocked down by honest criticism; 
and all according to fashion. This does, I think, describe them 
nicely, if I except some noteworthy attempts to reach widest 
truth as, for example, the French picture of " Verdun " produced 
by Leon Poirier, in which the War played the star part. At 
the other end of the scale is that concoction of sentimental slosh 
the British picture, " Blighty," in which Miss Ellaline Terris 
played a principal part, and which was produced and marketed 
by the commercial firm of Brunei and Montagu. 

For the most part the American war pictures vary but 
little in composition. 

Here is a " Liberal " analysis : 

" The danger is, I think that the war is only a background 
in most films. Always there is some vapid romance which 
disguises the powder. The hero generally comes home with 
his breast covered with medals to the girl who has waited so 
faithfully for him. Even in 'What Price Glory? ' one of the 
brutes who is made a hero of the story pretends that he has dis- 
covered what love means." 1 

Here is a Socialist analysis: 

" Mrs. Monica Ewer, reviewing a number of recent war 
films, said that the kinema had for screen purposes evolved a 
type of war of its own. In that war no enemy was seen, every- 
one killed was shot through the heart, no one was ever dis- 
figured, and the hero was sure to return to the heroine at the 
end of six reels. Private soldiers were always comedians, the 
film army was composed of ' Old Bills,' and the officers were 
gallant fellows making spectacular rescues. The screen war 
happened for no reason at all; everyone immediately rushed to 
enlist, and there was never a suggestion that anyone could 
possibly ask if there were a more reasonable way of settling the 
quarrel." 2 

i E. A. Baughan, The Daily News, March 16, 1927. 
2 Mrs. Monica Ewer, reported by The Manchester Guardian, February 
22, 1928. 




03 03 



•5 « 



— 03 ^ 



o * bt 
^ <u c 

bc o '5 

> «-< M 

£ (U <U 

££ . 

^ ° CD 

^2 



£o 



03 « 



S u y 

CO .2 M^S 

--< I e l 

©^ COy^ *- 

rf T3 « CO £ 

•S g 0*> co 

CO ^CQ^ O 
<a ti • "^ 

~s; X! • be C 
^ ^ 00 C .0 
co n • r, £ 

•- 2" c 2 
IS 6 S M^ 

±i ° s* £ c « 

<* +-• ^ 03-C T3 

^-( ,„ (IJ r* CO jH 

_ 3 
C O 






co 



^J^ 



« C ^ co cu 3 

1 CJ2 co v 



co 



.a o 

oo- .s g § O s 

M "o3 h"cy O r 

bC > > O £ 

cu 03 g o ^ 



ACTUALITIES 189 

And here is the Communist analysis: 

" Pictures and films show the ' glory ' but not the horrors 
of war: young men standing amongst mud reeking with the 
blood of their mangled mates; the gas choking the helpless 
wounded, heavy-calibre shells driving in the trenches and bury- 
ing alive those who are not killed by the explosion." 1 

It may be said that till the Germans began exhibiting their 
war pictures in this country, the English public were treated 
to the War from the victor's point of view. 

Finally here is the opinion of the film critic of a Tory 
newspaper : 

" Where is the Great War Film? In London cinemas, 
this week, you may see one of the best inspired by the conflict, 
' Verdun.' It is far from being the picture of one's dreams. 

' The bitterest struggle in history (as Mr. Edward Shanks 
pointed out the other day) has produced no great novel, but a 
volume of good literature. It has inspired no great film — few 
that are even good. 

* Verdun ' is good, because it is real; but its virtue is 
pictorial. The best British war films, the sober chronicles of 
great events of which Mr. Bruce Woolfe was the pioneer 
(* Armageddon ' and the rest) are good in the same way; but 
they do not even try to get at the root of the matter. 

" The Americans? Their war pictures are a joke. I 
know there are flying thrills in ' Wings,' sobs in * Four Sons,' 
swear-words in * What Price Glory ? ' and sex-appeal in ' The 
Big Parade.' Not one of these is a real picture of the war. 

' Their English imitations are beyond a joke. They vary 
in their quality, but are constant in a fundamental falsity." 2 

Such unanimity of opinion makes it clear that the war 
pictures made from the Hollywood recipe are, taken in the 
lump, a job lot that does not call for further analysis or particu- 
lar illustration. At the same time, it must be admitted that 

1 From the Methil " Spark." 

2 The Evening Standard, November 12, 1928. 

i5 



190 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

these standardised pictures contain evidence of sensationalism 
promoting sociological humanism and science to a prominent 
place on the screen, which has, I think, been generally over- 
looked. They reveal that there is a science of war and a science 
of peace, or warology and peaceology, and that the Great War 
made material contributions to both. 

' There is a science of peace as well as a science of war. 
The world as a whole did not understand that in 1892 — when 
the planning of the Great War of 1914 really began; 1892 saw 
the start of the competition in armaments. I am arranging to 
give addresses to young men in all parts of the country. I start 
at Nottingham in December. 

" One thing I shall be able to tell the younger generation 
is that in the whole of the last war only 380 tons of bombs were 
dropped upon London — and we know with what destruction 
and loss of life. But in the next war a few aeroplanes would 
be able to hurl that amount on London in a few hours. We 
must impress upon the younger generation that in modern war 
the only result is horrifying and widespread loss of life and 
property." 1 

The screened science of peace does not, however, amount 
to much as yet. An example appears in the British picture 
" High Treason," which, while recalling some of the mass 
features of the German picture " Metropolis," differs from it 
in having a peace instead of a revolutionary motive. Mr. H. 
G. Wells has written a remarkable peace scenario. 2 From what 
I have read of it, I gather that the author is the one man who is 
most capable of directing the Cinema peaceward, and who, if 
there is ever a sane organisation of the cinema world, would be 
best fitted to direct its peace department. 

The screened science of war is a different matter. There is 
plenty of it owing mainly to the fact that the American Film 
Kings follow the example of the newspapers by helping them- 

1 General Crozier, reported by The Daily Chronicle, October 17, 1929. 

2 See " Tbe King Wbo Was A King," by H. G. Wells. 



ACTUALITIES 191 

selves freely to current views and news. Also they have scraps 
of scenes taken on the spot. By these means they catch not 
only the moment but a good deal of scientific matter on the 
hop probably without being aware of it. Hence we find in- 
structive odds and ends of the new technique and methods of 
warfare in even worthless pictures. War making, planning of 
war, the carrying out of war, the production, distribution, con- 
sumption of war material, the devilments of war in the new 
methods of mass slaughter, of the use of poison gas, tanks, 
submarines, aircraft, intimate detail without and within the lines 
as in the French fragment, " The Battle of Arras." In short, 
we have thrills of scientific value from all the new paraphernalia 
which the ingenuity of the human brain has brought to the 
service of slaughter in these later days. Though Hollywood 
has put a war of its own on the screen it is a war that serves 
to illustrate the changes wrought by time in the methods 
followed in warfare. This is brought out by the sensational 
realism of pictures like " 7th Heaven," " Wings," " Out of 
the Ruins," and the rest. A contrast in methods of warfare 
is provided by the historical war picture of a national character, 
like, say, " Court Martial " which shows the method followed 
in the American Civil War. 

Coming to the field of sociological humanism it may be 
asked what is the effect of these " travesties " of the Great War 
on the unscientific audience? The answer is the effect experi- 
enced through the subconscious approach. The effect, that is, 
of the audience clothing the material objects, or the main emo- 
tional themes with its wishes. Each of the American war pic- 
tures has a basic emotion which constitutes its theme. All the 
emotions are the eternal ones which form the mainsprings of 
human action. Love, fear, hope, sacrifice, hate, tyranny, 
revenge, retaliation, cowardice, jealousy, pity, courage, forgive- 
ness, reconciliation, justice, these and many more are basic 
emotions or elements of emotions that operate upon the emo- 
tional and over-emotionalised audience and are the cause of the 



192 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

effect which I have frequently noted in this book, namely, the 
satisfaction of impulses and wishes, and in many cases, a tem- 
porary exaltation, without the scientific facts of the satisfaction 
and exaltation being known to those who experience them. 
It is possible, but not necessary to show how war pictures fall 
into emotional groups, each group having a basic emotion in 
common which exerts a common influence. There is for 
instance the " sacrifice " group which includes pictures like 
' The Four Sons," in which a mother loses her sons in the 
War. Or the " religion " group including pictures like " Our 
Increasing Purpose," showing the effect of war on a soldier 
who returns believing he has a divine mission to fulfil. 
By such pictures the subconscious is led to visualise, per- 
sonify, and to glorify the elements of sacrifice as human beings 
were accustomed to do in ancient times when they hung the 
sacrificial altar with votive offerings to the god of sacrifice. 

3. Religion 

Religious pictures, which together with the sex-appeal ones 
are of much earlier date than the War pictures, make stronger 
appeals to the subconscious and instinctive even than the War 
ones. For it is easy to read into even the very crudest of 
them healing wonders, magic, mystery cults, initiations, bits of 
mysticism, witchcraft, spiritualism, morality, sermons, super- 
stition, indeed a universe full of diabolical curses and miraculous 
cures, to be identified with superstition complexes belonging to 
the Dark Age. 

Examination of the American religious picture discloses 
that it is constructed rather instinctively than scientifically, and 
is as much guesswork as applied knowledge. Like the War 
picture it is mainly the outcome of Hollywood's ingenious com- 
mercial genius and is to all intent and purpose an example of 
Hollywood's own brand of religion. Not only outsiders, but 
those actively engaged in American picture production have 



ACTUALITIES 193 

detected its unsatisfactory character. Mr. Charles Chaplin, for 
example, has expressed a strong opinion of the Christ type of 
religious picture. It seems that he proposed to produce one 
himself, and in doing so made it clear that he was under no 
delusion concerning the existing Christ picture. He recog- 
nised that the examples of this concoction already produced had 
been shaped by very bad conditions. He is reported to have 
taken up an attitude that led one reverend gentleman, at least, 
to believe that " what Mr. Chaplin says about these films shows 
that he understands what is wrong with them. He sees in the 
figure of Christ a morbid and thoroughly unhealthy portrait, 
a limp and feeble sentimentalist and always too old a figure, 
and too weary an expression. These figures are not the Christ 
of the New Testament." 1 Of course they are not. They are 
not meant to be. The Christ portrayed by Mr. Cecil B. de 
Mille's strange Hollywood dish, " The King of Kings," is the 
Christ of the Financial Age, A.D. 1928. Otherwise, the box 
office Christ exploited for cash. No man of sense would mis- 
take the characterisation of Christ by Mr. H. B. Warner as that 
of the spiritual Christ of the first century. The interpreters of 
the Christ type may have perfectly honest intentions but what 
they are not aware of or fail to recognise is that the New Testa- 
ment Christ has a dual personality. He is Christ the God, and 
Jesus the Man. Further that eighteen centuries of wrong think- 
ing and action have buried the Christ of the first century under 
an accumulated heap of abuse and misconception. In order to 
represent Christ as the New Testament represents him, the 
Hollywood producer and actor must give him the dual person- 
ality which the New Testament attributes to him, and must, 
moreover, rescue both him and his doctrines from the heap of 
irresponsible cumber under which they are buried. 

There have been a fairly large number of religious pictures 
produced since the early days of the Cinema. It must be nearly 
twenty years ago since the first of the " conversional " and 

1 See The Daily Mail, November 30, 1929. 



i 9 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Christ pictures was produced. The I.N.R.I., series as they may 
be called, began with an early one reeler or two, and from 
the picture " Ben Hur " and " From Manger To Cross," pro- 
ceeded to grow rapidly into the mammoth spectacle, like Mr. 
Griffith's " Intolerance," thence to " The Ten Commandments," 
" Ben Hur " (an affirmation of Christianity), " King of Kings," 
"' The Shepherd of the Hills," to that mammonised conception 
of the Flood, " Noah's Ark," in which an element of conver- 
sion may be detected. Conversion to peace. Concerning 
" Noah's Ark " the Dean of Peterborough said, " I don't 
believe in the Flood. I never did, and I was never asked to." 1 

" Noah's Ark " is a portrayal of the Flood, or rather of two 
Floods. One the Flood which the Dean of Peterborough does 
not believe in; the other a Flood which the Great War is alleged 
to represent. One caused by Lust; the other by Hate. Even 
if there were a Flood in Noah's days, it is not analogous to the 
so-called War Flood. The first Flood was intended to sweep 
away all evil, and to leave untouched only those living creatures 
necessary to make a start at repopulating the earth on a more 
sanctified basis. What the War was intended to do I do not 
know. Certainly it has not washed the earth clean and thus 
swept away all evil. To judge by American pictures which 
express post-war civilisations, the earth stinks to Heaven worse 
than ever. It is so bad that the nose alone can tell us how 
bad it is. It hardly needs the newest Solomon Eagle, in the 
person of the Very Reverend Dean Inge, to declare from the 
steps of St. Paul's, and in the Evening Standard, that the world 
is mad. 

By these facts alone the " history " and " science " of 
" Noah's Ark " are condemned. The attempt to obtain organic 
structure by transplanting biblical types to the war area is a 
failure. Considered as a religious entertainment on the most 
colossal scale yet attempted, as official statistics prove — a 2,000,000 
dollar picture that took two years and a half to make — it is not 

1 Evening Standard, October 15, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 195 

beyond criticism. Its five thousand actors; greatest interior set; 
its thousands of yards of texture; its mighty rush of water en- 
gulfing a despairing host (or so we must assume), a flood 
supplied by huge tanks, — these and other commercial " thrillers " 
do not destroy the real statement of the picture that it is actu- 
ally nothing more than a gigantic piece of showmanship. 

The following extract from a criticism is worth quoting: 
Noah's Ark,' a much-heralded American super-film, 
presented at the Piccadilly Theatre last evening, must be num- 
bered among the screen's disappointments, though the producers 
had all the materials for an epic spectacle in their grasp. 

' They have chosen, unfortunately, to combine a story of 
America's participation in the great war with pictorial parallels 
based on Biblical descriptions of the great Deluge, and have 
seasoned the whole with Scriptural texts and anti-war comments, 
to say nothing of a love story, in which George O'Brien and 
Dolores Costello indulge in prolonged and frequent orgies of 
close up kissing. 

' The screen result of this medley is dyspeptic in the worst 
degree. It is as if all the courses of a good dinner had been 
piled on one plate, though, here and there, there are samples of 
excellent flavour. 

" Scenes leading up to the war, showing all the world 
plunged in a frenzy of international hatreds and gold-getting, 
are vividly produced, but contrasts based on scenes of " Golden 
Calf " worship in Old Testament times seem to be grotesquely 
misplaced. 

; ' The connection may be there, but when it is illustrated 
by a temple and a tape machine it looks ridiculous, and that 
queer juxtaposition perhaps indicates where the scenario of 
' Noah's Ark * went astray." 1 

Thousands went to see the picture, and while many no 
doubt pitted emotion against emotion, the majority satisfied 
religious desires of one sort or another. 

1 The Daily Express, March 20, 1929. 



196 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



4. Crime and Criminology 

From the foregoing chapters on Sex and Religion it may 
be gathered that the American pictures were to a large extent 
standardised and sterilised from the outset, that is from the 
beginning of the first Gold Rush just before the War. The 
subjects have throughout rested on basic themes, or basic 
emotions of which a short list has been given. The War 
pictures, although they did not make their appearance till some 
time after the War owing to the attitude of the public, did not 
disclose any change. With few exceptions, they were founded 
in elements calculated to appeal strongly to the emotional nature 
of an audience. Thus they touched the subconscious and in- 
stinctive in the audience while offering unintentionally scientific 
values to those who were equipped scientifically to receive 
them. 

American crime plays also fall into the standardised rut 
with this difference, that while they have a common aim in 
rousing emotional excitement, most of them are made according 
to a formula with a scientific basis. They are illustrations or 
expressions of a game that is being played in the American 
Underworld or Upperworld, in which human beings make war 
on one another for the sake of acquiring property of great 
value, and allow no obstacle to stand in the way of complete 
success. The game portrayed by the camera is played in such 
a way that the audience is invited to take part in it. It sits 
watching the moves and taking part in them, as in a game of 
chess, without being able to say with absolute assurance what 
the end will be. It is kept guessing, is in fact told to guess. 
" Guess who the villain is in ' Belphegor '," " Guess who will 
get the treasure," " Guess who is ' The Ringer ','' " Guess how 
' The Ringer ' will trick the police and get off in the end." 1 
And so on. In this way the audience is drawn into the action 

1 See American and British picture advertisements. 



ACTUALITIES 197 

of the crime picture and for the time being plays the dual part 
of criminal and detective, or whatever the leading characters, 
who are pitting wit against wit, may be. 

The formula of this type of picture is not new. It is as 
old as crime itself, as old as the classical detective masterpieces 
in which the plots are woven with such consummate skill, as 
by the French masters of detective fiction. It was in existence 
when Sherlock Holmes first made his deductive method of 
approach to the solution of crime. To-day the structure 
which rests upon it shows a mental method of approach 
supported by up-to-date ingenuities of mechanical science. 
The criminal in the detective picture is a mechanical 
expert. He has extraordinary familiarity with mechanical in- 
struments that can be applied to the successful pursuit of crime. 
His equipment includes an extraordinary knowledge of 
mechanical science, a gift of tongues, and a regard for appear- 
ance and dress that makes Bill Sykes and even Raffles look like 
fossils of a very remote age. Anyone who wishes to study the 
difference may do so by comparing Crime and the Pictures with 
" Crime and The Drama," a book in which the author deals 
with the records of the ancients of crime, such as Sweeny Todd, 
Paul Jones, Claud Duval, Turpin, and others. 1 Or an instructive 
comparison can be made between the two pictures " Sweeny 
Todd " and " The Sinister Man," " the most brilliant creation 
of the supreme master of mystery " (advertisement), otherwise 
Mr. Edgar Wallace. 

There is, in fact, a great deal that is old and standardised 
in the American crime picture. Much that has been common 
property for a very long time — scenes, incidents, technique, 
methods, conception, facts, fields of experience, fields of thought, 
general ideas. The characters, in particular the detectives, are 
old friends. Probably the personalities of Scotland Yard, the 
Big Five, etc., with whom Mr. Wallace has made us familiar, 
had their prototypes in the old Bow Street Runners, who, how- 

1 See " Crime and The Drama," by H. Chance Newton. 



198 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ever, were not equipped with up-to-date mechanical appliances 
to be used in crime warfare. 

At the same time, there is much that is new which un- 
fortunately has not been expressed in the best manner, but in the 
hands of the Film Kings has become standardised and sterilised, 
though not without yielding values that belong to the fields of 
sociological humanism and technical and mechanical sciences. 

The old conception of crime deals with the fossilised 
criminal in fossilised surroundings. The new, that is, post-war 
conception, deals with crime committed by the contemporary 
criminal in new surroundings, which are now being over- 
elaborated by the Talkie in, say, cabarets and crooks pictures 
of which " Broadway is a typical example. 

There are four new elements in the crime picture : 

i. A new orientation of subject. Hollywood has dis- 
covered the Underworld, and is engaged exploiting that black 
spot on American economic civilisation to which partly legisla- 
tion and partly accumulation of money wealth may be said to 
have given birth. I allude to Bootlegging and its foul men and 
deeds, and the savage war on society engendered by the effect 
of the exhibition of great possessions on the mind of the criminal. 
The study and expression of the Underworld has become 
fashionable. Within recent years a new aspect of the criminal 
world has been brought to view containing the secret machinery 
of crime, a world in which detectives and criminals, some of 
them of unsuspected mental ability, are seen plotting and counter- 
plotting against each other in a veritable war of wits. Leading 
from this subterranean Inferno are complicated passages by 
which the criminal reaches the upper world and engages with 
his confederates and dupes in the exciting work of disposing 
of his victims, if he himself is not first disposed of. 

2. A new orientation of technique and method. Both 
are brought into relation to recent scientific invention and dis- 
covery as means upon which the criminal relies to carry out his 
plans. 



ACTUALITIES 199 

3. A new orientation of the Law in order to cope with 
the new technique and methods of the criminal. The readjusted 
machinery of the Criminal Investigation Department for detect- 
ing, preventing and punishing crime, is exhibited and analysed. 

4. Finally, there is the new orientation of the moral and 
emotional elements, necessary to supply the lump of sugary 
sentiment suited to Hollywood box office requirements. The 
detective and the criminal are exhibited as human beings with 
sentiments and feelings that can be shared by the audience. 
Detectives no longer wear evening dress. They are clothed in 
humble work-a-day garments, they fall in love with the 
daughters of their wealthy clients, or with repentant female 
criminals, they forgive their common enemy the criminal and 
even enable him to escape the law if he shows a disposition to 
take the right path. There is no end to the sex, humane and 
benevolent propensities of the screen detective. Likewise, the 
criminal is shown to have his sentimental and human spots. 
To judge by the human touches in his Hollywood make-up, the 
criminal in him is only skin deep, and so strongly does he 
impress us with this fact that we feel (or ought to feel) quite 
sorry when he goes to the electric chair. 

Doubtless it is the human attributes of the new style detec- 
tive and criminal together with the strangely unfamiliar, 
terrifying, yet fascinating surroundings in which they move, 
that touches the unscientific members of the audience and sets 
them reading into the terrible conflict between the forces of the 
Law and Order and those of anarchy a new war between heaven 
and hell, as though the heavenly host had suddenly descended 
upon Chicago or the Bowery to engage in mortal combat with 
a criminal host. It is hard to say what they read into the variety 
of crime picture heavily sugared with magic, mysticism, 
occultism and queer religious elements of which the new version 
of the long-drawn-out serial and chapter play provide examples. 
But all types of crime play, those dealing with the under- 
world, like " Romance of The Underworld," " Manhattan 



200 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Knights"; or exhibiting excessive violence, "The Sea Beast," 
the Noah Beery pictures, in particular " Hell Ship Bronson," 
which is simply a long sequence of terrible brutality; or rival 
crooks "Come Across"; or crime and atonement, "The 
Secret Lie "; set the mind regressing to scratch in search of 
the path to righteousness. I mean there is a moral factor, as 
well as the immoral one which leads " righteous " people to say 
that Hollywood's crime plays are meant only to frighten children 
and birds to death. Others say, to make criminals of us all. 

The scientifically minded may refresh themselves with the 
scientific facts peeping out of that aspect of American civilisa- 
tion which the Film Kings delight to hold up for our admira- 
tion or execration, one affording proof that America, or the box 
office part, is the home of wholesale slaughter and ceaseless con- 
spiracy and revolting debauchery. To be fair to the Film Kings 
it must be said that there is another aspect of America which 
they portray with a powerful and moving balance in favour of 
America itself. I allude to the patriotic one, with its commer- 
cial and instructional implications. Here is a list of enterprises 
in that direction. It reveals a sort of Cinema for All policy 
with which Soviet Russia is pre-occupied but without the money 
production evils. 

" Mr. Hays turned the film ' Abraham Lincoln ' into a 
financial success by telling the public that if it failed film-pro- 
ducers would invest no more money in patriotic pictures of that 
kind. 

" The result was that five thousand cities and towns turned 
out in force to see the film. 

" Educational films are shown in all schools and colleges, 
and religious pictures in hundreds of churches. 

" Films are shown in the ships bringing immigrants from 
foreign countries. These films give the immigrant a concrete 
idea of the country to which he is coming. 

'They outline ways and means by which he can become 
a good citizen and make a good living. 



ACTUALITIES 201 

" Films are shown to leper colonies in the Canal Zone 
and in the Philippines. 

" They are shown to Eskimos to teach them about the 
United States. 

' They are shown to thousands of people in prisons, hos- 
pitals, orphanages and homes. 

" Films are produced which show all the uses of remedial 
and preventative medicine. 

' These films show pictures in slow motion and in colour 
of surgical operations performed by masters. 

The American College of Surgeons uses these for the in- 
struction of students." 1 

Besides this educational side of America there are the propa- 
ganda and publicity ones which inspire the Film Kings to make 
powerful appeals abroad for customers to buy America's goods. 
I may point to the much-praised picture " Nanook of the North," 
which reveals the benevolent methods followed in fur trading 
and suggests the advantages to be obtained from buying furs 
from American fur traders. I remember seeing the other side 
of this picture exhibited in a Moscow cinema. In the bolshevist 
eyes the fur trader is a low thief, not the fine honest fellow that 
he appears in the American picture. There are a number of 
good Hollywood pictures intended to put the best points of 
American industry and trade on the screen for the delectation 
of the whole world. The sentimentalised Speed and Flying 
pictures like " The Air Circus," " Wings," and the British 
" Smashing Through," type, have a commercial publicity basis. 

But for scientific persons there are pictures of man in 
his present-day surrounding that awaken speculation and add 
impulse to sociological inquiry and research. What could be 
more sociologically stimulating than the following: 

" Paul Fejos, the Hungarian scientist, who became a screen 
dramatist, has certainly produced the outstanding talkie sensation 
in * Broadway,' shortly due for public presentation. 

1 G. A. Atkinson, Daily Express, July 25, 1927. 



202 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

" Dr. Fejos is a bacteriologist, and in ' Broadway,' as in 
' The Last Moment,' and in ' Lonesome,' he has the detached 
air of Browning's student, who was ' not incurious in God's 
handiwork.' 

" The writhing, wriggling cultures of crime and the cabaret 
clearly interest Dr. Fejos, and he has a vivid way of presenting 
them for public dissection. 

" In this new and utterly astounding screen epic he lifts 
the lid off Broadway's seething, swarming, sinister, infinitely 
active and infinitely futile existence. 

"It is not civilisation that you see, but the starkest bar- 
barism, an absolute hell-broth of lucre and lunacy, though Dr. 
Fejos does not say so. 

" He throws it all against a background of architectural 
extravagance in cabaret settings, in which fantastic perspectives 
and dissolving nightmares of futuristic decoration reduce the 
human factor to microbial focus. 

" Dante's visit to the infernal region is a near parallel to 
the spectator's personally conducted tour with Dr. Fejos round 
Broadway." 1 

The producer is a bacteriologist. He has certainly caught 
a whole picture full of pathogenic microbes. 

Lest it be said that the picture is probably an excellent 
example of Hollywood guesswork and money-making exaggera- 
tion, let me hasten to say that though the Film Kings have the 
" crime obsession " it is not unmixed with sanity. They do 
not leave the production of their Chicago, or Bowery, or Cabaret 
and Cop pictures to amateurs. They are careful to lay in, if not 
a stock, at least two or three favourable specimens of the real 
thing in criminal producers while themselves claiming to 
possess not a few of the valuable qualities of their employees. 
Here is evidence. 

" Even some of the chiefs of the cinema industry ascribe 
their success to the qualities which they acquired in the under- 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Sunday Express, June 9, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 203 

world. They talk facetiously of ' gun play ' when they are 
selling films. 

" One of them, who opened one of London's best theatres 
a few years ago, was frankly proud that he had previously been 
a successful ' gangster.' 

" One of the most famous St. Louis gangsters, Ray Renard, 
who has been arrested 138 times, according to his own state- 
ment, is among those now producing crime films in Hollywood. 

" He has, to use his own words, ' changed his automatic 
for a megaphone.' 

" In St. Louis he went through two gang wars and reached 
the high position of second in command to ' Dinty ' Colbeck, 
one of the generalissimos of crime. 

" He acted as technical crime director to the Universal 
Company's ' Broadway ' and the Lasky Company's ' Thunder- 
bolt,' the criminal authenticity of which he guarantees. 

" When the screen crime wave subsides he promises to 
write a book on criminology. 

" Mr. Renard is not wholly an attractive character. Presi- 
dent Coolidge released him from a long term of penal servitude 
because he * squealed ' the evidence that sent twenty-six other 
gangsters to prison. 

" Mr. Renard will certainly need the courage of his con- 



victions." 1 



For the aesthete there is the aesthetic-minded burglar who 
is a connoisseur of the finest works of art and an expert in 
burgling, say, a ^100,000 old master by detaching it from its 
frame, or maybe follows the example of the exceedingly enter- 
prising masters of this kind of burglar craft who not long ago 
stole two enormous Adam fireplaces probably to adorn their 
country mansion. Could the criminal aesthete go farther? 

Finally, there is something for the pathologist who is 
studying the criminal as a fit subject for the medical man and 
lunacy expert. 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Sunday Express, June 9, 1929. 



2o 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

E. The Evil That They Do 

A. HISTORY WITHOUT AN HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 

I have shown in the preceding sections of this chapter that 
Hollywood has made a practice of using three or four subjects, 
Sex, War, Crime and Religion, for best sellers, regardless of 
their true significance. The aim of the Film Kings has been 
throughout to offer the public a saleable commodity heavily 
charged with sensation, for gain, and to some extent for a propa- 
ganda purpose. This has been made from a recipe that fitted 
it for the home and world market. Thus each selling picture 
has contained human, sentimental, artistic (Hollywood) and 
comic elements. Each was the outcome of a good deal of guess- 
work, for there is no evidence to show that the big makers of 
commercial pictures are regularly assisted in their business by a 
consultative body of experts in all departments of the natural, 
vital and human sciences. There is evidence to show that they 
do sometimes spend a lot of time and money in producing a 
huge picture, like " Noah's Ark/' and that for a picture of the 
kind they secure the services of the historian, archaeologist, per- 
haps the Bible scholar, in short, a miscellaneous collection of 
explorers, all of whom are however tied to the task of providing 
material that shall contribute to the principal content of the 
picture, namely, sensation. 

It is needless to say that pictures made on this basis have 
no lasting value. Although they possess, as I have pointed out, 
unintentional elements to which audiences react in a human 
way under different sets of circumstances, they lack expert 
knowledge and true statement of facts to make the best of them 
records to which future generations could turn for much reliable 
information. Such science as they contain, Sexology, Warology, 
etc., has got into them accidentally. The best of the crime 
pictures may be excepted. Probably those made under the 
supervision of criminal experts in the Hollywood studio may 




193°- American Screen Star. A First National Vitaphone picture. Billie 
Dove (in Careers) known as the Bird of Paradise, and reputed to be the most 
beautiful woman on the screen. A type of Beauty Queen used by the Film 
Kings to make a conquest of the Box Office of ihe world. Is one of the Silent 
Queens who has successfully become a Talkie Angel. 



ACTUALITIES 205 

have lasting features, and I am inclined to think that Mr. Edgar 
Wallace's able analyses of crime, the criminal, and criminal pro- 
cedure (found not only in pictures but in the Press 1 ) have cer- 
tainly something of exceptional value for posterity. 

For similar reasons, American historical pictures are not 
likely to give anything to posterity. For the most part they are 
historical pictures whose historical backgrounds have been sacri- 
ficed at the altar of " sex appeal " and the happy ending. An 
excellent example of this treatment appears in " General Crack,' ' 
in which John Barrymore, the American actor, plays the prin- 
cipal part. Crack is supposed to be fighting to regain his little 
kingdom from the Austrians and Russians, but most of the time 
he looks as though he is trying to understudy Valentino. As a 
matter of fact, his attention is as much fixed on making love 
to and dismissing a gypsy whom he marries, as on the 
business of smashing the Austrian and Russian imperial 
forces. The latter is a marvellous feat when you come to think 
of it. 

A large book could scarcely contain the many examples 
of improbabilities, omissions, artificialities and excesses that 
characterise both British and American historical pictures. Here 
is an example of an anachronism : 

" In the early days of cinematography — to be precise, 
shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914 — I witnessed a film 
of the Battle of Waterloo in which English lancers were shown 
making a desperate charge upon French infantry. 

' The audience seemed to regard the scene as an excellent 
piece of realistic acting. Most of the people present were 
oblivious, as, indeed, was the producer himself, to the fact that 
no British lancers were present upon the field of battle. Indeed, 
the lance was not introduced into the British Army until several 
years after Waterloo. Here, then, was an anachronism of the 
worst kind." 2 

1 See The Morning Post (series of articles); The Daily Mail (series 
on America), November, 1929; The Sunday Express, September 22, 1929. 

2 Sir Charles Oman, in The Daily Mail, October 1, 1929. 

16 



206 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Here is how Hollywood faked a Chinese picture the story 
of which was taken from a novel, and what the novelist said 
about it. 

" By the Sacred Dragon of China, but if Mr. Sax Rohmer 
could bring his villain, the sinister Dr. Fu Manchu, back to 
life again, there would be a few poison-snakes and venomous 
spiders lying in wait for the Hollywood film kings. 

" Because Dr. Rasmussen, of Shanghai, now in London, 
in a letter to the Editor of The Evening News, makes some 
nasty digs at the ' bunk ' and ' nonsense ' in ' The Mysterious 
Dr. Fu Manchu,' the talkie made from Mr. Sax Rohmer 's 
story, and honestly all the silly parts of the film have come 
straight from the fertile imagination of Hollywood — things 
like 

Dragons used as symbols of dire r-r-revenge. 
Chinese wearing Cantonese dress. 
Hand-to-hand fighting in the Legation courtyards 
during the Boxer rebellion. 

American troops wearing modern parade uniform 
and carrying Springfield rifles. 

" Dr. Fu Manchu could have soon settled his account with 
Hollywood. A furtive glance from his almond eyes, the stealthy 
dropping of a deadly scorpion into the film king's drink, and 
all would have been over. 

" ' He has become, for some mysterious reason, a benevolent 
old gentleman with a wife and daughter,' said Mr. Sax Rohmer, 
drawing his dressing-gown closely around him. 

" ' He gets mixed up in the Boxer Rebellion, which isn't 
even mentioned in my book. Some chance shots kill his wife 
and daughter, and their blood spurts all over a dragon curtain, 
which promptly is adopted by the doctor as the symbol of his 
revenge. 

Here is how publicity affects the historical picture. 

" * Old Ironsides,' one of the last of America's great patriotic 

i Mr. Sax Rohmer, in The Evening News, October 3, 1929. 



ACTUALITIES 207 

spectacles, shown here recently under the title * Sons of the Sea.' 

' The history of ' Old Ironsides ' was mainly the history 
of a fight with England, but in the film she appeared as having 
a mild scuffle with Barbary pirates. 

' The Paramount Company, which sponsored this produc- 
tion, pointed out that it had to sell its wares to Great Britain 
and seventy other countries, many of them under British in- 
fluence, so they preferred to run the risk of offending Barbary 
rather than Britain." 1 

Then there is the question of the preservation of the his- 
torical masterpieces of the screen. Says one writer : " One notes 
that there has been, as yet, no general desire to preserve for 
posterity any one of the masterpieces of cinematography, such 
as " Quo Vadis " and " Intolerance," probably the earliest and 
most stupendous spectacles ever shown on the screen, or " ' The 
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse/ possibly the finest dramatic 
War film ever produced. In these unique productions the critic 
can detect artificiality and excesses," 2 which have been employed 
by the producer to convey his story. " The Four Horsemen " is 
a Valentino film, and I think it is reasonable to say it is artificial 
throughout. How much real truth about the Great War is 
there in it, and how much sheer emotional " junk " for 
profit? 

One asks, what is the use of preserving historical pictures 
"in which the critic can detect 'artificiality and excesses'"? 
Historical pictures of true human interest, made under the super- 
vision of experts in all the departments of knowledge covered 
by the historical subjects, cannot fail to have a lasting value 
owing to their educational meaning and significance. How 
many existing pictures answer this description? If we turn to 
Hollywood's productions, it is likely that we shall not find one. 
Still, the emotionals of the Californian City of Gold have intro- 
duced emotional elements into their pictures, have stored up 

1 G. A. Atkinson, The Daily Express, September 24, 1929. 

2 " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929. 



208 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

guesswork like sweet honey in the cells of their own building, 
that satisfies some of the wishes and answers some of the funda- 
mental questions which present-day audiences take to the 
Cinema. 



B. Medicine and Surgery According to Hollywood 

The crudities and improbabilities of Hollywood's docu- 
mentary pictures, in particular historical ones, are equalled only 
by the surgical and medical sins of the story of entertainment 
pictures. I have a long list of surgical and medical errors, 
excesses, stupidities, which I have noted in pictures whose 
action has involved accident, wounding, sickness, death, etc. I 
have been led to note them by my long and close acquaintance 
with medicine, beginning as medical student, and by my atten- 
tion being drawn to absurdities by medical acquaintances who 
are cinema-goers. One of the latter, who would not object 
to be called a " Film fan," has occasionally accompanied me 
to the Cinema, where he has given me the benefit of his experi- 
ence in verifying my observation of surgical and medical im- 
probabilities. 

In the course of a long period of picture-going I have 
noted enough of these inaccurate and distorted facts to fill a 
large book. Looking back, I do not see one picture of the type 
I mention in which medical and surgical facts are truly stated. 
Indeed, to judge by the evidence collected, it would seem 
as though both British and American production companies 
are in a conspiracy to lead the public astray in this direc- 
tion. 

It is not hard to discover the cause of so much stupid 
blundering and incompetence. It is found partly in the method 
of subordinating everything in a picture to sensation, and partly 
in the fact which I have repeatedly stated, that entertainment 
picture production lacks the collaboration of a consultative body 
of experts capable of substituting essential and truthful facts for 



ACTUALITIES 209 

amazingly stupid guesswork stuff that pours from the ignorant 
minds of scenario writers and picture directors. 

In saying this I am not thinking of the instructional 
pictures which are engaged in scientific, in particular, public 
health propaganda, and in the making of which eminent 
physicians, surgeons and hygienists elaborate. Nor am I thinking 
of a type of documentary picture made with the assistance of 
the Government who provide the picture maker with every 
facility. I am thinking, as I said, of the commercial story 
picture whose action requires that one or more of the characters 
shall be hanged, drawn or quartered to make a Hollywood 
banking account. Into this type of picture sensation enters to 
the exclusion of all sense. Take, for instance, the death of He 
in the picture " He Who Gets Slapped." After being stabbed 
in the region of the heart by a deadly-looking sword-stick, He 
goes through a very robust circus act, the excitement of which 
alone would kill any ordinary unwounded man. First he assists 
a fierce-looking lion to destroy two unwanted characters, and 
thereafter he staggers into the arena, goes through some of his 
knockabout business, and finally flops down and dies in order 
to give the circus and the cinema audiences the shock of their 
lives. In this and other ways a Victor Sjostrom production 
of unusual promise is turned into a crude and common- 
place affair, though the general conception is by no means 
offensive. 

Let me mention two or three more examples of improba- 
bilities. There is the Thick Ear film variety in which the K.O. 
plays a leading part. Characters knock each other out with 
a single blow, especially on the jaw or the solar plexus, and one 
wonders how they obtained their expert anatomical knowledge. 
Next to the K.O. comes the wonder of the running fight, a 
feat which would cause an ordinary person to drop dead of 
sheer exhaustion. What means do these film acrobats take to 
build up a miraculous stamina. Of the non-casualty shooting 
matches, particularly in Wild West films, one concludes that 



210 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the standard of marksmanship must be borrowed from Mr. 
Bernard Shaw's classical work, "Arms and the Man." The 
impossible exploits of the running fight order are usually too 
silly to be laughable. They reveal unoriginal producers trying 
their hand at the German stunt technique, while spoiling other- 
wise excellent pictures. 

Drownings, complete and partial, provide much material 
for speculation and laughter. In " The Last Moment," which 
has been so generally and deservedly praised by the critics, the 
story consists of the rapid review of a man's life which, some 
say, takes place during drowning. The man re-experiences in 
a few seconds or minutes all that he has ever experienced. The 
memory of years flood the mind. The length of time is an 
important point, for after rising to the surface three times, as 
the man in " The Last Moment " is supposed to do, unconscious- 
ness and death follow rapidly. Now in the picture the portrayal 
of the material facts of the drowning man's mind lasts one hour 
and a half, so we must believe that he is conscious under the 
water for that length of time. An utter improbability. It might 
be said by a psychologist that the particular mind so analysed 
is such an exceedingly commonplace, unbalanced and uncon- 
trolled one, that it would not fight for life, particularly as it is 
paralysed by the thought of suicide, and would therefore be 
snuffed out quickly. 

An absurd rescue from drowning occurs in " Somehow 
Good," an excellent First National Pathe production. There is a 
thrilling scene in which a young girl jumps into the sea to save 
her father who is trying to commit suicide. She succeeds in 
helping to save him. The father recovers his speech almost 
immediately, although he is almost drowned. The girl drifts 
away and is seen fighting desperately under the water. But she 
is soon rescued while floating on die water, showing conclu- 
sively that she is not unconscious or she would have sunk. In 
spite of this evidence of consciousness, she is carried ashore, 
where a young doctor sets to work to revive her. We are asked 



ACTUALITIES 211 

to believe that this operation continues for two hours and forty 
minutes, and during this time no one, the doctor not excepted, 
knows whether she is alive or dead. Signs of revival should 
show themselves within half an hour or so. 

Such medical blunders sometimes have the effect of setting 
one speculating like a detective or an amateur criminologist or 
a student of medical jurisprudence. Something of the kind 
happened to me when watching "The Perfect Crime." In this 
picture a man is found with his throat cut. The door of the 
room is locked and bolted, so it could not be murder. There 
is no weapon, so it could not be suicide. Subsequently an 
innocent man is put on trial, convicted on faked evidence of 
murder and sentenced to death. But the most essential evidence 
which would have proved the man innocent is never brought 
forward by the defence. When was the throat cut? After the 
man was dead? while he was in a state of coma, or narcosis 
from a drug? or while he was sleeping normally? Any doctor 
could tell. If dead there would be no blood spurt. If in a 
state of coma the blood spurt would be weak. If sleeping 
normally the blood spurt would be strong. But he could not 
be awakened, which rules out normal sleep. He was either 
dead or in a state of coma, such alternative conditions being 
suggested by the use of two tablets, which a doctor, the real 
murderer, had given him to take overnight for the purpose of 
making him sleep heavily. 

In the end the doctor, an amateur detective, who has 
planned a " perfect crime," confesses to the murder. The pre- 
vious night he gave the murdered man two tablets, told him 
to take them at bedtime and to bolt his room door securely. 
The next morning the man's wife fetched him because she could 
get no reply from her husband's room. The doctor went, 
smashed in the door and disappeared for a moment. He re- 
appeared to call the wife's attention to the fact that her hus- 
band's throat was cut. He himself had cut it during his swift 
entrance. The tablets, the throat cutting and the blood spurt 



212 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

would have led any expert medical criminal investigator to 
discover how the man died. By these three clues the question 
put to the audience, "Was it murder or suicide? " was made 
ridiculous. 

The sight of a man being throttled to death and yet able 
to speak in loud tones (" The Gamblers ") is funny. Amnesia, 
loss of memory, is a stumbling block. In " Blindfold," a Fox 
picture, a girl has a shock which causes her to lose her memory. 
She does not remember who she is, or whence she came, but 
shows no confusion nor exhibits the usual symptoms. Imme- 
diately afterward she joins a gang of crooks and behaves as 
though there is nothing the matter with her, except that she 
cannot recall her name and old associations. A man may for- 
get that he had kippers for breakfast and yet be able to remember 
a song learnt in childhood. The girl recovers her memory 
through an incident similar to the one that deprived her of it, 
namely, the shock of the sight of her lover struggling with a 
murderer. There are various causes of loss of memory, epilepsy, 
hysteria, etc. In this case we are not told the cause, no doubt, 
lest we should question the case. 

The pictured version of " The Ware Case " offered much 
room for speculation. A man is struck several times on the 
head and pushed under the water of a wide lake. Subsequently 
his body is found some distance away from the actual spot of 
the murder. It is entangled in weeds and one arm is extended 
above the weeds. What would happen to a man who is struck 
violently on the head when swimming? Would he sink to the 
bottom like a stone and remain there? Would an unconscious 
man with his skull fractured, drift some distance in a lake which 
has no current, and with his arm outstretched? These are but 
a few of the questions raised by the details of the murder in the 
mind of the medical observer. 

Plunging a knife or sword into a vital part, generally the 
heart, and holding it there while delivering a long speech 
(Conrad Veidt in " The Last Performance ") is a fashionable 



ACTUALITIES 213 

blunder both on the stage and the screen. Shakespearean 
characters are experts at the game, and for this reason probably 
the screen actor would tell you that he follows a classical 
example. This method of dying is as silly as that of the 
character who on being shot in the back puts his hand on his 
stomach and falls forwards in a very stagey manner (" The 
Lights of New York "). A shot in the spine would cause a 
man's legs to crumple up. Cases of progressive blindness such 
as the one portrayed in " Sailors' Wives " are apt to set one 
thinking and laughing, especially when all reasonable symptoms 
are missing. I was much interested by a little thriller called 
" Fear." The picture was an attempt to reproduce realistically 
some of the terrifying incidents connected with The Plague of 
London. One of the characters alleged to have the disease was 
the daughter of a knight. She plays a principal part and there- 
fore she is exhibited passing through the various stages of her 
illness, with the intention no doubt of making the audience 
shudder. But unfortunately, for his intention, the producer 
laid in the wrong complaint. What the audience was treated 
to were the symptoms not of the plague but of ague, or 
malaria. 

I remember asking an intelligent producer (oh ! rare bird) 
to tell me why the screen was so crowded with medical and 
surgical improbabilities. I knew he would not blame sensation, 
or the lack of expert guidance. I was not disappointed, for 
he laid the blame on the close up. He told me that one of 
the chief difficulties of obtaining realistic medical effects was 
that of showing physical signs of injury, such as a swollen foot, 
dislocated bare limbs, fingers, hands, ankles, feet, etc. The 
close up ruthlessly reveals the absence of swelling in bare limbs 
that are supposed to be sprained or otherwise injured. The 
close up has, indeed, a lot to answer for. Its revelations of 
the astigmatical features of the Beauty Queens and Apollo Kings 
of the screen are too painful for words. Jug-handle ears, 
squints, imperfect teeth, skin blemishes, skins like the bark of 



2i 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

a tree, skins with pores so enlarged that they look like shell 
holes, all the physical defects, indeed, ascribed by Max Nordau 
to the great " degenerates," as he called the geniuses of his 
time, 1 take the watchful eye, and move the soul to pity. 

1 See " Degeneration," by Max Nordau. 




1929. American Animated and Sound Cartoon' 
Mickey the Mouse in Mickey's Follies. The 
movements are said to be determined by the music, 
as in the Russian Ballet. But whether the music or 
the cartoon, the composer or the cartoonist comes 
first is uncertain. It is certain however that the 
cartoons are very rich comics. By courtesy of Ideal 
Films, Ltd. 



PART III 



THE REVOLUTION 



CHAPTER VI 

THE TALKING PICTURE 

A. Summary 

So far the book has been concerned with providing evidence 
of the movements of the Cinema along two paths analogous to 
those followed by humanity as recorded by the Bible. It is in 
fact evidence of the two purposes in the Cinema. On the one 
hand, the good purpose which has never been intentionally 
sought and developed, but has nevertheless shown itself at the 
surface intermittently at times of crisis and in answer to the 
demands of peoples who have sought to read their desires and 
wishes into the material objects of which commercial pictures 
are composed. On the other hand, the bad purpose, in the 
sense that it makes for acquisitiveness not for public service 
which is intended to enable the Cinema to fulfil a function for 
the Film Kings, not for Man. 

These circumstances required that the evidence should be 
that of a world-wide activity and significance. It must be 
drawn as far as possible from all those regions, even the remotest, 
throughout the world to which the Cinema has penetrated. 
Moreover, for the sake of truthfulness, it must be personal rather 
than hearsay evidence, that is, evidence proceeding from first 
hand observation that could not be denied. Unless it was the 
result of the observing eye watching the two purposes in action, 
and comparing the two springs of action, human and com- 
mercial, it could not be accepted as altogether trustworthy and 
used to support the belief in the human and humanising function 
of the Cinema. So the evidence produced begins with the 

birth of the Cinema through the invention of a mechanical toy 

217 



218 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

in which, as in the Garden of Eden, is contained immense 
possibilities of good for the human race. Then follows its ex- 
pulsion from Eden and the start of its career on the downward 
path under the compelling and corrupting influence of the 
Mammonites (who may for the sake of analogy, be likened to 
Lucifer taking charge of the human race for the purpose of 
destroying it). Thereafter the two paths are paralleled so far as 
the results of personal observation under the most trying cir- 
cumstances permit, so that the understanding mind can realise 
that they are not similar. 

Then follows the endeavour to ascertain the nature and 
value of the bad purpose, to determine what good, if any, there 
be in it. 

So the processes of the building of an organic structure 
intended to promote the bad purpose are traced. The golden 
city of Hollywood is shown rising from a desert. Its gigantic 
machinery for the production, world-wide distribution, and ex- 
hibition, of a sensational, emotional entertainment, is considered. 
All the ingredients of that amazing dish are analysed, and the 
money lords, the bankers, speculators, and others, who contri- 
buted to the cost of the building of the city, and the production 
of a dish calculated to draw billions of pounds out of the public 
pocket, are shown either pitted against each other, or 
amalgamating in the struggle for the biggest mountain of gold. 

Then the substance (or content) of the universal dish is 
examined and shown to consist partly of standardised and 
sterilised elements of no real permanent value, and partly of 
a very small proportion of elements that have been added un- 
intentionally, and which are capable of moving the audience, 
instinctively, subconsciously, and scientifically. 

Implicit in all this is the inference that the vast American 
organic structure, the great Film Industry of Hollywood, is 
built not upon a rock but upon shifting sands. The gold upon 
which it rests is not solid but fluid, and change of public 
demand may, at any moment, cause the structure to be swept 



THE TALKING PICTURE 219 

away, as events in the past have threatened to sweep it away. 
A year or two before the War began, the novelty of the early 
crudities began to wear off and there was an exodus from the 
Cinema. Disaster was averted by building luxury cinemas. 
Three or four years ago another exodus began, this time from 
the American cinemas. America's population had grown sick 
to death of a monotonous diet. A barrier of palaces, magnifi- 
cent even beyond the dreams of the Pharaohs, arose to stop it. 
Without success. But what the grandeur palaces could not do, 
a little mechanical device did. By means of this miraculous 
device, called the microphone, the present-day " Talkie " was 
born, and the Film Kings plunged once more into the realms 
of speculation and finance to dream of wealth beyond the dream 
of Croesus. 

With the coming of the " Talkie " it is asserted that some- 
thing of the nature of a Revolution took place. A destructive 
yet constructive principle of power entered the camera. The 
vast organic structure which had been erected with the aid of 
the golden resources of America fell before the shrill strident 
Voice like the walls of Jericho before the blasts of the trumpets 
of die seven priests. And like a second Hiel, the Film Kings 
hastened to rebuild their Jericho. They laid the foundations 
of untold gold brought for the purpose by the bankers of 
America. They covered acres and acres of ground with sound 
proof buildings. They erected technical machinery of a new 
and hitherto untried character. They amalgamated with the 
great electrical trusts. They scoured the highways and byways 
for new human material wherewith to feed the machinery. 
They set up a new system of production, distribution and ex- 
hibition. And they began to produce — what? The old 
standardised and sterilised dish, or something more appetising 
and lasting? To what has the selling of War, Crime, Sex, 
Christianity given place? Have the Film Kings at last seen the 
true possibilities of the Cinema, realised its true relation to the 
Theatre, and the wonderful development that is likely to take 



220 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

place through the union of the two. Or, to them is the Voice 
but like the grandeur palace, a means to stave off disaster till 
its novelty is gone, and another trick must be played to keep the 
gold-getting business solvent? Let the following pages reply. 
Let me ask : What is the Revolution ? What is its cause ? 
What is it like? What is its effect? Is it Revolution or 
Armageddon ? 

B. Why a Revolution? 

One morning in 1928, the cinema world awoke to learn 
that during the night a momentous event had taken place. A 
little mechanical device upon which men had been experiment- 
ing for long past, hoping thereby to attain the use of a principle 
of power before unused, had suddenly come into practical 
use, with the result that it promised completely to change the 
conception, policy, method and content of the mighty 
mechanical toy to which the principle had been applied. Or, so 
it seemed. 

Men who, for years, had been seriously exercising and con- 
centrating their minds on bringing the silent picture to reason- 
able perfection; others who had been investing their own and 
other people's untold money in the endeavour to make the 
silent picture the most colossal money-making medium ever 
known to man, suddenly found their achievements dashed to 
pieces by an Arabian Night's innovation (or so it seemed) con- 
centrated in the hands of a few desperate gamblers (so they 
styled themselves) to whom apparently true human advance and 
human values were nothing. From the facts of their careers, 
it was to be gathered that their chief ambition was to make 
and amass money, and to do so by destroying even the most 
sacred things. 

Or so it seemed. 

There was a moment of dreadful consternation. Some 
people peeped into the camera and saw Nothing; others peeped, 
and saw a Microphone, others again heard a Voice. Then 




x 2 T3 S ,: 
*" H ic i 5 

^§.£ 

cy^ > Or/3 

•£ C£ b^ 
g-c ^ ^ 

•2 ._, C ~ C3 

•g *T/S f2 

- Vh C b C 

. ,£ -m i_ w 
S ~ M col* 

c^E-h c ' 

^^ S • 
2 c 

•■£' «,-A bc.u 

~ — <l> ^ £ 

■^a.g'S 

d~gg£ 

C £-£"£ 

£ * * t:-G 

_ CO CO (J — 

*.£ w "G-5 

£ !H ^ > c 

u o h * <u 
> 5 ^ <u 



G^* ^^ 



J3 -M CO +J 

<; -c <— 1 <u o 

c — c 



O 03 



CU U 

CO CO 2 



CU <U <u 



S£z 



THE TALKING PICTURE 221 

arose swiftly a great noise. Cries, shrieks, curses, sounds of 
joy, of exultation, of bewilderment, shouts of praise, blame, 
prophecy, smote the air. Scare, Chaos, Boom, grinned 
triumphantly. Professional men and women sought the 
columns of the Press, their features convulsed with horror, dis- 
torted with anger, their minds torn by the conflicting emotions 
of fear and hope — fear for the future of their careers, and hope 
of gain in the present Gold Rush. Never had the greed of 
gold in human beings been so stirred to its depths. 

But that was not the worst. Significant men and women 
of the Theatre, who had long been vowed to its service, had 
done something worth while for its advancement, were panic- 
stricken by the momentous event. They completely lost their 
heads. They went about wringing their hands and exclaiming, 
" Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." " The Theatre is lost." 
' The Theatre is dying." ' The Theatre is dead." " Long 
Live the ' Talkie.' ' " What shall we do? " they cried. And 
one of the Gold-Getters answered, " Do as I do." " Damn 
the Theatre." " It's dead." " Bury it and all its good deeds." 
" Let's go to Mike " (meaning the all-conquering microphone). 
" Let's be foremost in the scramble for gold." " There's heaps 
and heaps of it." And many of them went. They stood not 
on the order of their going. Their exodus from the Theatre, 
from the thing they loved most, (or so they said), was not 
sorrowful, slow and dignified; it was a flight. 

And above the tumult and the shouting of the Gold-Getters 
arose the sound of the word " Revolution." " A Great Revolu- 
tion." " The Most Colossal Revolution of the Ages." " Are 
you For or Against the Revolution? " 

The word " Revolution " gathered force as it rolled. It 
collected together its rabble-like associations. It assaulted the 
ear of the sober minded. It invaded the Press where it 
marshalled its forces in immense headlines, many of them 
meaningless, yet all calculated to hypnotise, and to take the breath 
with sheer audacity. 

17 



222 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

All the time the sober minded whispered, " Is it a Revolu- 
tion? " " What is a Revolution? " And they went to the 
dictionary and other word books, and sought diligendy for 
definitions so that the truth might not be hidden from mankind 
by Sensation and Stunt. What did they find to satisfy sense? 

A Revolution is a sudden and complete change amounting 
to a reversal of an existing order, political, economic, industrial 
or social, or all four. It is different from Evolution which 
is a slow and continuous change. Revolution has come to 
mean to people of sense an overthrow of an organic structure 
necessitating the building of another. Evolution is the unfold- 
ing of an organic thing, as a tree may be said to unfold from 
seed to root, to trunk, to branches, to leaves, to flower, to fruit. 
What of inorganic things — an engine, a motor, a ship? Can 
they be said to evolve? Has the camera evolved? unfolded? 
Has it not been built up slowly stage by stage by human in- 
genuity, and mechanical processes. May we say that there has 
been added any new principle of power since the first lens was 
ground? Has it not been adapted to principles. The practical 
use of the microphone has added to it a form of power hitherto 
unutilised. But has this power entirely destroyed that organic 
structure, the old cinema world to which the practical use of 
the camera without the microphone gave birth? Let us con- 
sider the changes produced by Mike. 

First some Press answers to, Why a Revolution? 

The Revolution. " A Revolution in the Cinema. The 
talking picture with which this country has been flooded by 
America, has brought the whole structure of film entertainment 
to the ground. Producers have had to scrap all the old methods, 
and theatre-owners have had to spend millions in new equip- 
ment, with the knowledge that it is quite possible that these 
will have to be wasted," 1 through the introduction of fresh 
novelties. My italics. " Revolution in Photography/' 2 Accord- 

i W. G. Faulkner, " Daily Mail Year Book," 1930. 
2 The Daily Express, March 11, 1929. 



THE TALKING PICTURE 223 

ing to Mr. Samuel Goldwyn : " The business has gone upside 
down. Technique, players, direction, plot, action, and the 
public that pays to see — the whole lot's changed right round." 1 
" Unchanging Chaplin in a World of Revolution. " 2 " Holly- 
wood's Colossal Gamble." 3 

Out of the Mouths of the Film Kings. Again, according 
to Mr. Goldwyn: 

" The film ' factory ' is as dead as the proverbial cold 
mutton. 

" The great producers of Hollywood are now planning 
to devote eight months to the creation of a single * talkie,' 
instead of making fifty-two ' features ' a year. 

" All existing contracts constraining cinema proprietors to 
take the mass-production films of any given film factory have, 
for all practical purposes, lost their validity. Hollywood pro- 
ducers unanimously concede that the * talkies ' and the silent 
film are quite different things. 

"From manufacturers, Hollywood's film producers have 
turned showmen. From purveyors of a standardised form of 
entertainment, with an absolutely assured world market for their 
' tinned ' product that spelt profits of tens of thousands sterling, 
they have found themselves overnight to be gamblers — and 
gamblers on a scale such as the amusement world has never 
\nown before."* My italics. 

Scare Headlines : " Reshuffling of Star voices. Minor 
light of Yesterday the Star of To-day. Hollywood Packing." 5 
" Millions Sunk in Talkies." 6 " Mergers, Combines, Vast 
Amalgamations that the Advent of The Talkies has produced." 7 
" Denunciation by Charles Chaplin. Prophesies Two Years Life 
for Talkies. Battle over Silent and Sound Reviving." 8 
" Developments, Possibilities, Forecasts." 9 

1 The Evening Standard, May 11, 1929. 

2 Ibid. 

3 The Daily Express, May 11, 1929. 
* Ibid. 

5 6 7 8 9 p ress Headlines, April, 1929. 



224 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

The British Playwrights' Vision Beatific. " Talking Films 
are the chance of a lifetime. . . ." 

" Possibly because of our Puritan tradition, or maybe our 
lack of initiative, I find that English business men look at the 
cinema with suspicion; it is almost impossible to make them 
realise what the film industry could mean to us, what it already 
does mean to America. 

" I wish I could get it into their heads that in America 
one man — Mr. William Fox, the ex-trousers presser who has 
revealed such astonishing genius as a showman — controls assets 
worth ^50,000,000. And he is only one of a dozen movie kings 
— Laemmle, Goldwyn, the Warners, and the rest — who have 
made vast fortunes, not by taking it out of other people's pockets, 
but by actually creating new wealth. . . . Invention of the 
talking film, as I found recently in the United States, has re- 
duced the film business to panic, and something very li\e chaos, 
and given us a great chance to make up our leeway." 1 

C. What is the Cause? 

Let us examine the cause of this pandemonium and chaos 
in which some people appear to detect signs of a revolution. It 
is associated with two circumstances. 1. The attitude of the 
American public towards the Cinema. Its open rebellion 
against stale and nauseating food. In consequence, the frenzied 
efforts of the caterers to find a substitute. So the Film Kings 
fell on their knees and prayed to heaven for manna, and they 
received a microphone. In days to come it may be said that 
they asked for bread and received a stone, but it will be admitted 
that the stone was quartz containing gold. 

2. The second circumstance was the feeding of the multi- 
tude with one small microphone and a super-loaf of publicity. 
By this means it was filled with sound and wind and carried 

1 Frederick Lonsdale, in The Daily Mail, April 8, 1929. 

Note. — Mr. Lonsdale has since taken to helping to create new wealth. 



THE TALKING PICTURE 225 

to a new heaven called the " Talkie." The story of the process 
of putting sound into the camera is a long and involved one. 
It need not detain us here. Essential facts are given in that 
Warners' bible, " The Film Finds Its Tongue." 1 

Let me add some evidence by which the reader may form 
his own opinion on these statements. 

As to the exodus which caused a panic in the Mammonites 
army: 

" America's Desperate Methods To Save Hollywood." 
" Discovering that Hollywood had become stale, America, in a 
moment of desperation, turned from the silent screen to speak- 
ing pictures." 

" In analysing the position, it will help if we first find out 
how * the talkies ' started. 

" We must go back to the film year of 1926. In that year, 
in the United States, six pictures were signally successful. They 
were ' Ben Hur,' ' The Big Parade,' ' Beau Geste,' ' Black 
Pirate,' ' Stella Dallas,' and ' Variety,' which in this country was 
called * Vaudeville.' 

' The custom of the film world is to show two feature 
films in the same programme, and to have a complete change 
of programme on Mondays and on Thursdays. 

" Four feature films per week means 208 per year, and six 
outstanding pictures cannot maintain public interest in 202 
pictures, most of which are indifferent, and many of which are 
positively bad." 2 

Said Al Jolson: 

' You in Europe do not realise that most of the motion 
picture houses of America before talking films came along were 
playing to empty seats." 3 

How the Boom began : 

The reluctance of English film people to be stampeded inta 

1 «< The Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitzhugh Green. 

2 The Daily Chronicle, April 19, 1929. 

3 The Evening Standard, October 8, 1928. 



226 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

talking films is probably due to knowledge of circumstances 
behind the new American craze which are not familiar to the 
general public. 

" Until a few months ago many of the 20,000 cinemas in 
America were in a bad way. They were feeling the reaction of 
unintelligent pictures. American film people, being of the get- 
rich-quick-and-never-mind-to-morrow type, have always pre- 
ferred novelty to quality. They have no interest in establish- 
ing the film as an art. When a few German films penetrated 
to American cinemas two years ago, Hollywood's dictators de- 
cided that pseudo-high-browism was a novelty worth cultivating, 
and American pictures began to improve. 

" The craze for novelty led in due course to cine-variety. 
It failed. Cinemas shut up, and booking fell off. 

" The American film makers, contrary to general belief, 
live very much hand-to-mouth financially, and they had to think 
of some new novelty in order to keep the flow of dollars from 
Wall Street going strong." 1 

" Robert thinks talking pictures became inevitable in 1924. 
His reading of film history is that, in 1914, with the production 
of ' The Birth of a Nation/ motion pictures entered on a decade 
of prosperity, increasing steadily until 1924, in which year 
cinema attendances in the United States began to decline. Some 
said the decline was due to the coming of broadcasting. Some 
said it was due to bad pictures. The latter reason is the better. 
Anyhow, a panic began. American business is built on such 
foundations that it cannot stand still, let alone decline. The 
flight from the cinema had to be arrested. The decline had to 
be converted into an increase." 2 

History : 

" Patents were in existence in 1906 covering practically 
every process of ' Talkie ' production." 3 

1 A. Jympson Harman, in Evening News, October 1, 1928. 

2 Robert B. Sherwood, in Sunday Referee, June 2, 1929. 

3 John Scotland, in " The Review of Reviews," June, 1929. 



THE TALKING PICTURE 227 

" In 1920 the film with the sound break on the edge was 
being hawked about." 1 

The reward : 

" Western Electric experimented for years with their sound- 
devices before putting them on the market, and they had to 
threaten the American producers that they would make talking- 
pictures themselves if those producers would not go into the 
game. 

" Hollywood saw the point — and the firm of Warner 
Brothers made a profit of six hundred thousand pounds (pounds, 
not dollars) in the quarter ended December 1, 1928, which is 
exactly one hundred and seventy thousand pounds more than 
they made in the whole of the previous year. 

11 That is the sort of gold rush which has come to the early 
exploiter of the * talkie.' " 2 

D. What Is It Like? 

What precisely are the changes wrought by the revolution 
engineered by Mike? 

Conception of the Cinema. An all-talking machine 
instead of one appealing to the visual sense only. 

Policy. The world-wide exploitation of Sound and Talk. 

Motive. Money production. 

Organisation. Changes in the system of production, dis- 
tribution and exhibition owing to the new principle of power 
to be exploited, the new commodity to be marketed, and the 
limitations imposed by the nature of the commodity. The 
formation of vast combines between Production Companies and 
Electrical Corporations in order to overcome the limitation and 

1 "The Film Weekly," October 14, 1929. 

2 Peter Buraup, in The Sunday Dispatch, March 10, 1929. 



228 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to recapture and satisfy the one vast and multifarious appetite 
if possible. 

Economic. Increased investment. Enormous collabora- 
tion with the Lords of Finance-Capital for the sake of profit. 

Material. Wholesale purchase of new human Capital 
for the sake of profit. Such material now drawn from the 
entertainment world. Technically, from the electrical world. 
The electrical engineer is proclaimed Boss. The Microphone, 
the All-Highest. Some of the Beauty Queens and Kings sur- 
vive the storm, but their facial beauty is now hidden behind an 
indiarubber mouth which moves as though smitten by palsy. 

Methods. A mixture of technical science and guess- 
work. 

Content. No material change. Standardisation and 
sterilisation renewed. A large scale glorification of Sodom and 
Gomorrah replaces the small scale one. American Jazz civilisa- 
tion is seen as through a magnifying glass. Latest English 
summary. " To date, 200 ' Talkies,' 40 of them murder 
' Talkies.' That is, 25 p.c. murder ' Talkies.' " r Pornography 
still giggling at the Censor. Two of the best of the old features 
retained, the Westerns and the Cartoons, with sound added. 
The original American comedy of Sennett and Chaplin almost 
extinct. 

Total Result. Very little that is new or fit for consump- 
tion. But a suggestion of an immensity of portrayal which when 
allied to vision and rightful direction may deliver the Cinema 
from the furnace of sterile box office entertainment. 

Evidence. Policy : 

" Art has no place in Hollywood's outlook. If the men 
who make films in that Mecca of the get-rich-quick fraternity 

1 Evening Standard, February 17, 1930. 



THE TALKING PICTURE 229 

could make more money, more quickly, by selling cheese, 
to-morrow they would all be selling cheese. 

" They are making talking films because it has been proved 
that talking films have struck a ' gold mine ' of novelty interest 
and curiosity value. The first prospectors in this rich field will 
made a quick ' clean up ' and a ' getaway.' "* 

Economics. 

" The aggregate amount of capital sunk in these early 
experiments and in the re-equipment of their vast studios for 
sound recording must amount to many millions of dollars." 2 
" In America, where the vital importance of the films is realised 
and the greatest financiers of Wall Street are behind the leading 
producers, the Western Union Telegraph Company, Mr. Otto 
Kahn, and other financiers of equal importance, are pouring 
out money like water in a feverish and successful attempt to 
perfect the new talking devices." 3 

Material. " Great Screen Triumph of Hollywood Revue." 
" 25 Stars in Feast of Music, Beauty, Comedy, Dancing and 
Scenic Beauty." 4 

Collaring English Goods. " What, in fact, is Hollywood 
doing with all the people it has taken from this side of the 
Atlantic who meant so much to us and mean so little to the 
American public, which only judges by names? " 5 

Effect on the Beauty Queens and Kings : 

" American talking picture stars seem to suffer terribly. 
They all appear to be victims of perpetual neuralgia or sciatica. 
They seem quite incapable of bursting into song until their faces 
indicate extreme mental and physical torment. 

; ' Their arms seem convulsed by imaginary agonies. Their 
legs seem to writhe and stagger under invisible but immovable 

1 G. A. Atkinson, Daily Express, April 10, 1929. 

2 Basil Dean, Daily Mail, September 27, 1929. 

3 Frederick Lonsdale, Daily Mail, September 2, 1928. 

4 The Daily Chronicle, October 21, 1929. 

5 The Evening Standard, July 25, 1927. 



230 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

burdens. Perhaps most pathetic of all, their heads constantly 
shake in horizontal palsies. 

" Why it should be supposed heartrending to wag the head 
from left to right or right to left over every talking picture 
mammy, sonny or cutie, no one can tell." 1 

Content. The Dream : 

" The film is able to create visibly and acoustically Holly- 
wood's dream of a super-super-club." 2 " When talking films 
are not occupied with the underworld or underclothed they 
welter among the domestic affections. They sing for daddy and 
sonny as Jolson did, or display sisterly sacrifice." 3 " Standardisa- 
tion which means sterility. American producers want to make 
pictures like they make Ford cars and sausages. Someone 
evolves a formula of cabaret and crime, and at once all the 
other Big Business Men out with their variations on that un- 
original theme. You remember the wearisome fashions they 
set with their silent pictures. At one time the bad Czars of 
Russia, at another the Klondyke gold rush." 4 

Stages: " i, Syrupy sentiment (' Jazz Singer '); 2, vocalised 
vaudeville (' Broadway Melody and Fox Movietone Follies '); 3, 
murder dialogue (' White Cargo ') and Prohibition dialogue 
(' Speak-easy ');" and so on. 5 " ' The Jazz Singer,' an interesting 
movie mongrel." 6 

E. What Is The Effect? 

MADNESS AND WAR 

i. Madness. The public is mad upon " Talkies," and 
everything is done in a commercial way to whip them into dis- 
plays of madness. 

1 The Daily Chronicle, August 7, 1929. 

2 Manchester Guardian, June 6, 1929. 

3 The Evening Standard, June 3, 1929. 

4 Peter Burnup, The Sunday Dispatch, June 9, 1929. 

5 " Everyman," July 4, 1929. 

6 G. A. Atkinson, The Daily Express, September 29, 1928. 



THE TALKING PICTURE 231 

2. War. The resumption of the battle of commerce on 
a vaster scale than ever. Hitherto the American Film Kings 
have carried war into all countries with remarkable success. 
Now the table is turned. Other countries, England included, 
are preparing to carry war into the enemy's country. What is 
the military situation? Ironic. America first utilised the Voice 
that meant financial salvation for the Film Kings. By doing so 
it revealed and handed to England and European countries a 
powerful weapon which may be used against the Film Kings 
for their own destruction. War is declared on both Fronts, 
European and American. Two immense armies are massing. 
America has mobilised Hollywood and enlisted the two great 
electrical corporations, Western Electric and Radio. England 
and Europe are armed with the Voice. America has set up the 
electrical serpent; in Europe Aaron's rod is budding. 

So far no revolution, but checkmate. 

But the cinema Armageddon is here. It will be fought 
to a finish with all the new principles of power as they come 
successively into use. Technical novelty will succeed technical 
novelty, giant screen, all-colour, stereoscopic scene. What will 
emerge? The cinema triumphant or its ashes? 

Evidence. Madness. " * Talkie ' Cinema Seats at £2 10s. 
each. Wild scrimmage to see and hear a ' Mammy ' singer." 1 

"As I recently suggested, the film industry is showing 
several signs of madness over sound. It is being tacked on to 
all kinds of films already made in order that they may be 
announced as * sound pictures.' At present they have the advan- 
tage of novelty, and a bad picture with sound is more popular 
than a good picture without it. But the cooler heads are plead- 
ing that it should be remembered that the film's the thing, and 
that sound is only an adjunct which may improve a good film, 
but will not save a bad one." 2 

War. Invasion of England. " U.S. Film King's Sensational 

1 Evening Standard, September 19, 1928. 
3 Observer, August 19, 1928. 



232 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Hint." " Jesse Lasky may make films over here. Natural home 
of talkies, he says." 1 American Imperialism: 

" I showed, yesterday, that the present struggle between 
the American Telephone and Telegraph Company — with its 
associate, the Western Electric — and the Radio Corporation of 
America was merely a civil war to decide which should hold 
the balance of power; but that their real objective was a united 
attack for the complete domination of the entertainment industry 
of the world. 

" This domination is necessary for a far greater scheme 
which is, even now, being actively developed throughout 
America. This is nothing less than the complete realisation of 
what can only be called American Imperialism through the 
medium of commerce rather than through the conquest of terri- 
tory. It is a gigantic scheme whereby, by compelling the world 
to take its products, America shall be the undisputed greatest 
world power." 2 

" World Domination Propaganda. Attack on British 
Industry." 3 Plans: 

"The Daily Herald' learns that negotiations are actually 
in progress to effect something in the nature of a great Euro- 
pean combine to fight contending American interests, notably 
the Western Electric Company, if satisfactory arrangements can 
be reached." 4 

''Talking Film War: New Move." 'The war over 
talking picture machines is following the same course as the 
war over the silent film projectors." 5 Another move: 

" A new development took place yesterday in the legal 
dispute between two great organisations concerned with talking 
picture equipment. 

" The parties are the Western Electric Co., claimed to be 
the principal manufacturers of sound film apparatus, and Klang- 

1 Evening Standard, May 8th, 1929. 

2 Morning Post, August 29, 1929. 

3 Morning Post, August 30, 1929. 

4 Daily Herald, April 5, 1929. 

5 Daily Chronicle, May 21, 1929. 




<u 


CO 

cd 


£ 


C 


X 




x 


g 





X 

CU 




o x 


0) 


-3 


ta 








Ih 


cd 


^ 






Ih 




Im 






X 


4J 


c 


+J 


,,_, 




ftx 


cu 
o 


cu 


1—1 




s3 

o 




co 

C 


cd 
co 

CU 


C 




xx 

CO 
£2 


cd 

09 


X 


P 
O 

Ih 




cu 
u 


k 


•i 


C 


bl 




c 


CO 

X 




M 




Ih 


cd 


CO 


o 




o 

CO 

T3 


in 


X 


< 


CU 

c 
o 

CO 


cd 
X 

C 




CU 

s 


IE 


cu 

Ih 


~ 




Ih 


_c 





CU 







CU 

+-> 

CU 


X 


0<T 






X 


£ 


>> 







cd 


Ih 
GU 

c 


X 
1) 


CU 

5 


CU 

x" 

cd 
O 








cd 


OJ 


CU 




~? 


> 
Ih 

C 


c_ 


if. 
c 

rz 


CO 

CU 








'** ■ 


Ih 






3 


co 










is 


G 
cu 

ID 


cu 
o 


cd 

CU 


-3 
c 
cd 




cu 


Ih 

U 
co 


cu 


h 


T3 

CU 

X 




u 


u 










3^ 


, __* 


w 

CU 
CJ 

u 

p 


c 




_u 


h 


ID 


M 




'a 

03 


cu 


cd 

Ih 

X 


-5 






CJ 


s 


X 


u 




X 


z 
£ 




x 


ft 

>*x 


o 




be 






Ih P 

« g 

CU <-w 


03 
C 
cd 

u 


C 


c 

Ih 


cd 
cu 
M 
cd 

S 

CU 




C 
Ih 
S3 


o 

X 


N 
CU 

X 

CU 

X 


C 




o 

C 

cd 
X 


ft 

CU 

> 


Ih 

P 

U 
CU 


X 

73 
cd 
CU 

Ih 


3 


cd 


O 

CU 
X 




X 


XI 


3 


co 
cd 


CU 

cd 


o 

cd 




c 

03 


cuX 


c 
u 
u 


T3 

a 

cd 


S 

cd 
bn 


Ih 

U 

s 


3 


3 
ft 

cu 


CO 

cd 

JZ 


CO 

U 


CO 

CU 


< 


PX 





p 


5 




a 


-^ 


X 


CO 


6 


<+H 

c 


X 


£ 


O 
o 


3 


f, 




■Jj 


c 


CU 

X 

-a 


CU 


^ 


o 

x 


X 

cd 


cd 








CU 


X 


c 


JS 




X TJ 




cd 





THE TALKING PICTURE 233 

film-Tobis, the German talking picture equipment manufac- 
turers. 

" Some time ago, the Germans challenged the Western 
Electric patents by seeking injunctions to prevent the use of the 
apparatus on the grounds of patent infringement, and the 
negotiations which followed broke down last week. It was 
then stated that the Klangfilm group would vigorously press 
its suits. 

" Last night it was officially announced that ' The Western 
Electric is starting suits to nullify various patents of Klangfilm- 
Tobis in Switzerland, Holland and Germany. Thirteen of these 
suits have now been initiated. The majority of them are against 
Tobis patents." 1 

Note. — There have been swift developments since this was 
written including Warners' 40 European affiliations; R.K.O's 
bid for World distribution; Hollywood's bid for control of 
British capital; invasion by American key men, etc. 2 

1 Daily Chronicle, September 21, 1929. 

2 See The Sunday Referee, June, 1930, G. A. Atkinson in The Sunday 
and The Daily Express, June and July, 1930. 



PART IV 

THE WINGS OF LEAD OF HOLLYWOOD 
BEFORE AND AFTER THE REVOLUTION 



CHAPTER VII 

THE DESCENT: THE GERMAN WING OF 
HOLLYWOOD 

That is before and after the Talkie " revolution." There is 
not much to be said of the German cinema after the " revolu- 
tion " as yet. But there is much to be said of its pre-Talkie 
career. 

In this chapter I take up the thread of my personal 
experiences where I dropped it to examine and build the Great 
Economic Machine of American Picture production, distribu- 
tion, exchange and consumption, known as Hollywood; and to 
show how by means of this Machine the American Film Kings 
have succeeded in buying up nation after nation and have thus 
attained their supreme object, the capture of the universal appe- 
tite and its conversion to gold — the idol of their own special 
interests. In this buying up of nations I mean in a cinema 
sense, they have bought up the groups of which each nation is 
composed, and the nations composed of big aggregations of 
groups have come to form wings of the main Hollywood 
structure. So nations have taken their place in the great game 
of producing commodities made from a Hollywood recipe, or 
of selling commodities supplied by Hollywood, and of paying 
Hollywood a heavy tax for being permitted to do so. In short 
they have become part of a mighty machine with a purpose of 
its own — not the purpose of serving eternal, supreme and fixed 
principles — principles of good — but principles of evil of the 
Financial Age applied to production of money for money's sake. 

It is no exaggeration to say that Germany affords the best 
illustration of Hollywood's success in attaining and retaining 

237 1 8 



238 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

financial power over a present-day powerful nation that has 
experienced the bitterest reverses of the War. No other country, 
England not excepted, so enlightens us in the method of the 
American Film Kings of buying a nation, of making it a Brazen 
Wing of Hollywood, and thereby putting their own selfish 
economic purpose in the first place in a crude and unashamed 
manner, so far as the picture subject to be exploited is con- 
cerned. 

This means that to anyone who entered Germany imme- 
diately after the signing of the Versailles Treaty, and has 
repeatedly visited that country since for the purpose of studying 
the reaction of its fine cultural institutions to after-war events, 
a unique opportunity has been afforded to trace a parallelism 
with which I have dealt in Part II of this book. 

The parallelism, that is, that I have drawn between the 
two paths representing the two purposes, good and bad, of the 
Cinema, showing how along with the second has gone the 
first, sometimes at the surface in response to the human appeal 
of the cinema audience, sometimes underground where it has 
disappeared under the all-powerful heel of Mammon. On the 
one hand, the unintentional in the picture responding to the 
instinctive, subconscious or scientific call of the audience, on 
the other, the intentional appealing through Sensation, that 
keyword of all Hollywood politics and economics. 

I use the word unintentional to describe the effect of 
aspects of material objects in pictures on the instinctive, sub- 
conscious or scientific in the German audience, because although 
the German cinema at its best has undoubtedly been used for 
the intentional purpose of stimulating patriotism, nationalism, 
a concern for the Fatherland, etc., although it has been made, 
like the Theatre, a medium for keeping up the fighting spirit 
of the German people at moments when crisis and economic 
disaster weighed most heavily upon it, there is nothing to show 
that this intentional use of the Cinema for the purpose of 
" ennoblement " has ever been promoted to a system, as in Bol- 



THE DESCENT, 239 

shevist Russia, where both the Theatre and the Cinema have 
been consciously organised to cultivate in 150,000,000 or so 
people a consciousness of the meaning and significance of 
liberation as dreamed of in the philosophy of Marx and 
brought within practical politics by Lenin. The German 
cinema, in fact, came to serve an " ennoblement " purpose 
rather automatically than otherwise, like a man who, suddenly 
finding himself with his back to the wall surrounded by relent- 
less foes, seeks to overcome them either by persuasion or by 
such pacific means as he can command. 

If we wish fully to realise the two paths followed by the 
German cinema since 1919, we must first know and under- 
stand the conditions, political, economic and social, which have 
imposed themselves upon the Cinema, and by doing so have 
largely determined its content and method of expression. Such 
conditions were consequent upon Germany's defeat. They 
have given rise to a long-continued Political and Economic War 
in what must be to the Germans an Inferno of the senses. I 
say an " Inferno of the senses " although the fight for life and 
light brought about by the unprecedented military disaster has 
not been without its lessons and compensations for those who 
took part in it. 

I shall not attempt to state here in chronological order the 
series of political, economic and social events and cinema con- 
sequences. I have already made a fairly complete statement 
of events and Theatre consequences in another book. 1 Those 
events also operated upon the Cinema. But a clue to the nature 
of the events that did influence the Cinema may be given. 
They are some of the events that fixed the mind of the German 
people upon the wavering fortunes of its country and sent it 
to the Cinema for relief from dreadful Fear, and for Hope in 
the highest degree. From the moment the War ceased Fear 
possessed and consumed the German people, and we may believe 

1 See " The New Spirit in the European Theatre " (1914-25), by 
Huntly Carter. 



240 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

that Fear possesses it as firmly as ever. For by all accounts 
to-day in Germany seeming prosperity is the cloak that hides 
a multitude of economic horrors. The following description 
of events and Theatre consequences is taken from an article 
which is a review of the post-war German theatre. The Cinema 
was affected by a similar sequence of events, which I have traced 
elsewhere and of which the following is an extract. 1 

" By 1919 the Russian Revolution had evoked revolutionary 
outbursts, extensive strikes, and exciting political events in most 
European countries. Theatrically, it had the effect of doubling 
the purpose of political propaganda by adding to the fierce 
nationalist campaign the equally fierce war on extreme 
Socialism or Communism. The latter, of course, served to fix 
public attention on international affairs. In Germany 
Socialists, including Communists, continued in power after the 
Revolution of 191 8, and, in consequence, their supporters, 
propagators of socialist ideals and ideas, were able to invade 
the theatre and stage the old crumbling social order and the 
new one such as they conceived it. Disillusioned members of 
the old social order (not necessarily Socialists) sought to drama- 
tise the horrors of the World War. Fritz von Unruh, for 
instance, whom the War had converted to a view of its own 
unrighteousness, attempted to convert the public to this view. 
Other anti-war propagandists endeavoured to stage a microcosm 
of a world revealing how the bitterness of war had influenced 
the younger writers' conception of the world, of the structure 
of society, of the value of kings and dynasties. Communists, on 
their part, sought to put a world of class-war on the stage. 
Ernst Toller, for instance, influenced by Hauptmann's 
* Weavers,' showed the masses roused to revolt by the supposed 
unrighteousness of machinery. With the subsequent decline of 
extreme Socialism came a broadening of democracy and 
dramatic themes began to reflect public opinion in favour of 

1 See " The Theatre and Foreign Affairs," by Huntly Carter, " The 
Contemporary Review," January, 1928. 



THE DESCENT 241 

the downfall of tyrants, the overthrow of the old Prussian 
tyranny, the regeneration of mankind, and the exaltation of the 
collective Man as the representative of the people. Strengthen- 
ing nationalism showed itself in both active and a great spon- 
taneous passive resistance to the continued war on Germany by 
France. The theatre continued its policy of instructing and 
enlightening public opinion as to the meaning of catastrophic 
events with the best available materials. Thus, for example, 
it met the French invasion of the Ruhr with plays written at 
the time of Napoleon's invasion of Germany. ' Napoleon and 
The Hundred Days ' appeared simultaneously in many German 
playhouses. It also exhibited plays specially written to expose 
the shameful treatment of the Rhine population by the French, 
Belgian and coloured troops, in particular, the horrible crimes 
against women by the latter. 

" It may be said, then, that during the period covered by 
the signing of the Peace Treaty and the acceptance of the Dawes 
Plan, the German theatre became a social institution in which 
the German people organised access to their new Republic. 
Therein through their deputies they endeavoured to reconstruct 
a new social order and were only prevented from succeeding 
by the lack of stable political and economic conditions. Still, 
the popular Will could be traced manifesting itself on matters 
of great moment — monarchy and communism, revolution and 
counter-revolution — Spartacus, Kapp and Luttwitz, Hitler, Ruhr 
1920, Hollz riot, etc., the attempt of the French to take over 
industrial, if not the whole of Germany, the Plebiscite on 
German ex-Royal property, the question of the return of the 
Kaiser, such matters were reflected indirectly and directly in 
drama forms. 

" During the latter phase of the latter half of the wartime- 
and-after period of the European Theatre, the phase of recon- 
struction, the German theatre gradually changed its world of 
nationalism for that of internationalism, or more precisely, cos- 
mopolitanism, which revealed Germany renewing its friendly 



242 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

relations with hitherto hostile nations. By the autumn of 1926 
several big events had succeeded the Dawes Plan to affect 
public opinion. Locarno, Geneva and the entrance of Germany 
into the League of Nations, the Commercial Treaty with 
France, the conversations between Streseman and Briand at 
Thoiry promising a Franco-German rapprochement, questions 
of international finance — all these had come to lull the public 
into a sense of security and to give international affairs a wider 
and a new interest. The public no longer read Spengler and 
Rudolf Steiner; they were losing interest in Keyserling and 
Vaihinger. Positivism was beginning to take a firm hold of the 
German mind. As in the days of the Morality play 
heaven and the Deity had become mislaid and the public 
were seen to be turning blindly even against the most 
sacred things. There was a coarsening of internal politics 
owing to the introduction of unfair methods of fighting. There 
was a decline of morals. Wedekind and Freud and their many 
imitators were in the centre of the stage exhibiting a world of 
sexual degenerates to people craving for excitement. Revolu- 
tionary playwrights, like Toller and Kaiser, were almost out of 
fashion. Nationalism on the stage had taken the form of com- 
promise. In January, 1927, a very popular military hero, Neid- 
hardt von Gneisenau, Blucher's chief of staff, occupied the stage 
at Max Reinhardt's Deutsches theatre. Gneisenau was shown 
winning the war against Napoleon by finally defeating him at 
Waterloo. But because he did it in his own and not in the 
German king's way, the latter refused to honour him. The 
play, in consequence, was received by the public in two ways — 
by nationalists as pro-Kaiser and the glorification of a great 
military hero; by anti-nationalists as anti-Kaiser and the humilia- 
tion of a man of the people by a narrow, selfish and vain 
monarch." 

Let me try and follow the course of events as they affected 
the Cinema. I entered Germany in 1919, just after the War. 
Social conditions were almost beyond description. Germany 



THE DESCENT 243 

was simply a Nation of Dreadful Night. To Germans them- 
selves it was an Inferno of the Senses. The people were starv- 
ing, disease stricken, dying, committing suicide by the hundreds. 
Food shops were bare. Turnips, filthy black bread and imita- 
tion foods that stank to heaven and poisoned the blood were the 
only edibles. Rooms at the hotels were bare. All textures 
and metal fittings had disappeared. You obtained what com- 
fort and service you could from paper sheets, paper pillows, 
paper coverlets, paper curtains, paper towels, paper string. It 
was paper, paper all the way, and destitution, misery, black 
death that filled the air with horror. The bad social conditions 
persisted for a considerable period and had cinema conse- 
quences. In the depth of the bitter winter of 1921 I invited 
two university students to accompany me to the cinema. On 
the way they confessed that they were starving. I took them 
to Patzenhofer's on Frederickstrasse. Here I paid 2,000 marks 
for muck not fit for Hottentots. But they devoured it as though 
it were a Lord Mayor's banquet. Later they admitted that to 
them and many thousands of poor students the Cinema was 
an economic necessity. It cost less to sit huddled in a cinema 
of an evening deriving what heat they could from each other's 
body and the badly-heated auditorium, and what instruction 
they could from the picture, than to buy a pint of oil to keep 
them from freezing to death in their icy cold attics. The 
Cinema was, in fact, light and heat and entertainment to 
them. 

Similar conditions prevailed in 1922. Folk sought the 
Cinema for bodily heat. A starveling told me that the price 
of oil was sky high. A pint of oil cost over 300 marks. This 
was barely sufficient to provide heat and light for one evening. 
We were on our way to the Fata Morgana Cinema (fateful 
name). It was packed to the door, and no wonder, a seat cost 
only 200 marks. But as the cinemas were heated only at night 
and were stone cold during the day, this kind of economy was 
limited. The Cinema in competition with the oil-shop ! Could 



244 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

there be anything more human yet tragic. Even at a later date 
the public use of the Cinema to solve the domestic problems of 
economic distress was apparent. 

There were many other reasons why the German people 
went to the Cinema. In my note-book I find some of the 
principal causes of an awful wave of depression that seemed 
to overwhelm the German people in 1923. Here they are. 
Catastrophic fall of the mark. . . . Chaos in prices. . . . 
England sympathetic but leaning heavily on France. . . . 
France, no change of attitude. . . . America indifferent. 
. . . Moratorium applied for and refused. . . . Sanctions 
threatened. . . . Economic sanctions applied. ... A 
large number of Germans turned out of Alsace and Lorraine 
and property confiscated. . . . Monarchist movement. . . . 
Rathenau assassinated by nationalists . . . and so on. Not 
long before his death I had two important conversations with 
Rathenau. He was the quintessence of pessimism and depres- 
sion, elements which are strongly marked in his books which he 
gave me. 

Such circumstances were sufficient to send the German people 
to the Cinema, which by this time was taking a strong part 
in the political and economic struggle of the nation. As an 
illustration, I may point to the Caligari and Mabuse pictures 
with their aesthetic trimmings. The subjects of these pictures 
are an expression of the gloom, morbidity and sense of horror 
that possessed German people at the time of their production. 
In such ways, then, the people was invited to take its fears and 
hopes to the Cinema to get them fulfilled. In other words, the 
Cinema was exercising on influence in the war of economics and 
politics. 

From this it seems reasonable to conclude that the German 
cinema had become, or was becoming, organised to satisfy a 
public craving for enlightenment and instruction on matters 
of vital interest — matters, that is, concerning their own, and the 
interests of their country. What was this organisation? What 




<» <U <U I 

U H H h 

or? ^ 

JO^C . u 
C O £ <L> 

. o.6o « c.8 S 



§,3 



« U O 



- .2 



R '-C o <s .is 



■C D - 



tM 






^3* 

be 
13 C 

>— > _ G GO ,_, 

O C »3 +-* <U ,» c« 

c: ^ J? o^ c« o 






3 4H J^ 

3 n -< 



c <£ ° 3 2 

>» O 3 5 









1) -M +j 

o 





5^ o 

w - 1 <~ z. 

O Ui rn H Vh 



<L> CD > 



C 



d > r^ rG O o 

' *\ '-C *-" oj • G - -G G 
^ § -S G J» T3 T3 



THE DESCENT 245 

was its cause? What was its effect? It was an organisation 
that took place soon after the War ended. It served to divide 
the post-war career of the Cinema into periods and tendencies. 
The German film industry began about 1909, and 1914 saw 
the close of the first period. The second important period began 
about 1920 and lasted till 1927. From 1927 to 1929 there was 
a period of descent into the vortex. From 19 19 to 1923 or 4, 
there was a passionate outburst of insurrectionary activities by 
the young insurgents whom the removal of post-war restraints 
set free to their own wild expression of social indignation and 
reform. They sought reform through aesthetic channels. 
Plunged into Chaos, dimly aware of a new civilisation and of a 
Germany with a new spirit, they set out to embody the spirit 
in Form. To them Form came first. " Create the Form," they 
seemed to say, and by a miracle the spirit will become enshrined 
in it. They were unaware that to be reasonable we must take 
care of the spirit and the Form will take care of itself. How- 
ever, their enthusiasm and search for Form took them into the 
Cinema which oddly enough the German Film Kings had to 
some extent prepared to receive them. The outcome was the 
German aesthetic tendency which revealed itself in the Cinema 
in a preoccupation with the problems of space, and the search 
for the absolute picture. There was an attempt to raise cubism 
and expressionism to the front rank as means of interpretation 
and representation. Expressionism gave " Caligari " to the 
cinema world, and it has lived to exercise an aesthetic influence 
in many countries. 

The circumstances that linked the commercial and aesthetic 
tendencies together are not difficult to trace. 

The origin of the important revival of the German film 
industry was inflation. It enabled Germany to sell its com- 
modities in foreign markets at a very low rate. 

The Concept. The Cinema was conceived of as an instru- 
ment of national liberation. 

The Motive. To overcome the worst effects of economic 



246 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

and Political situation produced by the War and the Peace 
Treaty. 

Organisation. A strictly economic one, resembling that of 
Hollywood. Economic machinery to promote economic activi- 
ties consisting of the production, distribution, exchange and con- 
sumption of picture goods necessary to meet a foreign demand, 
and to satisfy the present appetite of the German people. These 
activities depended upon and were controlled by Capital — 
Finance and Credit. 

Content. Two types of picture; one national for home 
consumption; the other international for foreign consumption. 

Briefly : Patriotic Propaganda, and Profit-making Publicity. 
Pictures made for foreign consumption carried an advertisement 
value by reason of their quality. 

Method. Technical efficiency. 

German technical progress after the War was very rapid. 
When I visited the German Cinema Exhibition at the Leipzig 
Fair in 1923, I found abundant evidence that in the matter 
of the production of technical novelties of the cinema, Germany 
was well ahead of other countries. The following extract taken 
from a German paper to which I contributed reveals that the 
'" sound film " was occupying close attention and not without 
very promising results : 

" The triumphal march of the German film has increasingly 
attracted the attention of the international film expert world, 
for in the last years the German Film and cinema technique 
has made enormous progress. The German film companies are 
unwearying in their efforts to improve and perfect the technique 
of the cinema in every direction. Among the greatest modern 
German inventions we may mention the new " sound film " 
(system Vogt-Engl-Masolle) which offers, in perfect form, an 
absolute combination of picture and sound." 1 

Though the aforesaid economic organisation resembles 
that of Hollywood, inasmuch as its primary aim is clearly to 

1 The European Press (Germany), April 11, 1923. 



THE DESCENT 247 

enable a film industry to pay its way and to make large profits, 
it has one redeeming feature put there by its promoters, who 
appear to have had an appreciation of the historic national 
struggle in which Germany was engaged, as well as a powerful 
commercial instinct. To the idea of making money they joined 
the ideal of the creation of a new, or at least, a better, Germany 
than the one destroyed by the War. It was an excellent ideal 
which might have worked wonders if only the Film Kings 
had kept it in its place and not allowed it to over-ride the idea 
of enabling the film industry to pay its way. Unfortunately, as 
time went on they plunged so heavily on national and patriotic 
films before the German film industry was financially secure, 
before they had an assured substantial income from foreign 
markets, that financial distress and the American pawnshop was 
inevitable. 

The redeeming feature is described by the term " ennoble- 
ment." What it means precisely I do not know. But as applied 
to material by these producers standing on the verge of an 
abyss, it is understood to mean quality. As applied to national 
and patriotic subject it may or may not mean glorification or 
exaltation. In any case, I read that in 1920 or thereabout, " The 
Director-General of the largest German Film concern had just 
effected a certain amalgamation with a well-known American 
company, and after a brilliant harangue upon the international 
significance of the film before a small group of Berlin editors, 
concluded as follows : * I believe the function of the German 
film is to give the American film that which it does not possess 
— that is soul.' M1 To this benevolent intention may be attributed 
the fact that between 1920 and 1926 a number of pictures of 
high rank were produced by Germany which were very success- 
ful in England, America and other countries. 

Probably this ennoblement ideal provides the key to the 
long-continued production of pictures to which I shall give the 
name of " current event." Their production and exhibition in 

1 " The New Vision in the German Arts," by H. G. Scheffauer, 1924. 



248 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Germany were determined by current events. Such events 
operated upon the German public and produced a highly- 
wrought state of mind that asked for a process of ennoblement 
or exaltation, to relieve it. We see, then, the German cinema 
launched into the historic national struggle, not by the people 
themselves, not by a Government acting on behalf of the 
people, as in Russia, but by commercial-minded men equipped 
with a higher purpose than the Hollywood Film Kings. They 
wanted the Cinema to assist in solving perhaps the gravest 
economic problem that has ever faced any country, with the 
exception of Bolshevist Russia; and they wanted it to take part 
in the political-social struggle. To them, however, as business 
men, it was necessary that economic activities should always 
come first. They had, no doubt, sound economic reasons for 
this view. But, on the whole, it had a disastrous effect on the 
majority of pictures produced for national and patriotic pur- 
pose. It led to the introduction to powerful saga, historical, 
national, religious, and other propaganda pictures conceived and 
carried out on the largest scale, of trashy elements and 
inconceivably stupid situations, such, for instance, as one of 
many that disfigures the U.F.A. production of " Faust." I 
allude to the cheap melodramatic scene which exhibits Gretchen 
and her child in a snowstorm. There is no reason why Gretchen 
and her child should not be seen in a snowstorm any more 
than there is why Eliza and a child should not be seen doing 
acrobatics on icebergs. But to introduce this kind of stuff into 
a great national epic like " Faust " is simply a sign of commercial 
cretinism. 

The commercial falsification of the proper character of the 
big subject handled for the purpose of encouraging national 
unity, reconstruction and recovery, could be traced in many 
productions during the period of full action and decline. For 
this reason the study, during the said three post-war phases, of 
the content of pictures made for home consumption, though 
always highly instructive, did not always bring joy. 



THE DESCENT 249 

I think the content of the first phase of picture-making 
most interested me. It was the outcome of an unusual co-opera- 
tion between the capitalist, the impressario and the young in- 
surgents equipped with a new aesthetic. At that time the capi- 
talists appeared to be moved by a sense of duty to the Fatherland. 
They upheld, as I have indicated, an ennoblement ideal; they 
were aware, no doubt, that the old Germany had fallen to 
pieces, and that a new unity was wanted and must be attained 
even though it mean an alliance with forces that had no box 
office value. 

This strange wedding of Croesus and Solon (an aesthetic 
one) took place at a time when so many young enthusiasts were 
talking and acting (as so many are doing to-day) as if the solu- 
tion of aesthetic problems were the short cut to the building of 
a new Germany on a happier and more spiritually prosperous 
basis than the old one. Anyone who examines such unusual 
pictures as " Dr. Caligari," " Mabuse, " The Golem," and others 
whose technique is strongly inspired by these, can see at once 
that the makers are not concerned with the political, economic 
or social subject. They are not concerned with physical reality 
at all. " Caligari " is an illustration of the application of the 
principles of expressionism to the moving picture. It is an 
expression of something felt by the artist, and an attempt to use 
space as a material with which to obtain plastic form. Space 
is indeed thought of as a solid, as stuff to be modelled, like clay, 
and not as a vacuum in which to dump an object, say a con- 
ventional street fountain. And " Caligari " is an experiment in 
Einsteinising space. Or putting it on the sculptor's block. 1 

l ' The creators of the picture were Walther Reimann, 

Walther Rohrig, an architect, and Hermann Warm. These 

men did not wish to produce a series of new and startling 

pictures. What they undertook was a scientific and aesthetic 

experiment in a new treatment of space." . . . Method. 

1 See " Oddities of Sculpture," by Huntly Carter, " Pearson's 
Magazine," March, 1930. The titles describing the illustrations have been 
" edited " to mean nothing. 



250 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

" Floors and pavements are streaked, splashed and spotted, 
divided and decorated in bars, crosses, diagonals, serpentines 
and arrows. The walls become as banners, or as transparencies, 
space fissured by age, or as slates upon which the lightning 
blazes strange hieroglyphs. Or they become veils and vanish 
in a mosaic of scrambled forms and surfaces, like a liner in 
camouflage. A grim effort is made to extend perspective not 
only in flight from the spectator — that is, toward the back- 
ground — but into and beyond the foreground, to overwhelm 
the spectator with it, to penetrate and transfix him with its linear 
life, to draw him into the trammels, the vortex of the action. 
The first effect that strikes the eye in the Caligari 
film is the plastic richness and accentuation of all the masses. 
We are plunged into a cubistic world of intense relief and depth, 
a stereoscopic universe. The modelling of the scenery is 
emphasised by painted high lights, by artificial shadows, by 
bands of colour outlining masses and contours." 1 Pretty, but 
no money in that, as a Film King would say. 

Such is the setting. But what of the characters? They 
are far too naturalistic. They do not harmonise with the back- 
ground. 

The writer gives the credit of the " creation " to Messrs. 
Reimann, Rohrig and Warm. But the production was in- 
directly influenced by the Berlin Sturm Group of ultra-expres- 
sionists associated with Herwarth Walden. From my friend 
Walden I learned that the painter decorators copied the ideas 
of the Sturm painter Arnold Topp without so much as a word 
of acknowledgment. In " The Golem," " a fantastic, cabalistic 
Jewish romance of ancient Prague, by Gustav Meyrink," we 
see the new architect making a practical use of space. But 
Herr Poelzig, to whom belongs the credit of having built Max 
Reinhardt's "Theatre of The Three Thousand" during the 
War, obtains his expressionistic effects by means of plastic form 
instead of by painted scenery as in " Caligari." The picture 

i " The New Spirit in the German Arts," by H. G. Scheffauer. 



THE DESCENT. 251 

" Dr. Mabuse " is a third candidate for expressionist immor- 
tality. 

The above experiment with space is spoken of as some- 
thing new. Actually the problems of space have occupied the 
attention of the artist for a very long time. " No artist, even 
before the days of the camera, had for his object the mere 
representation of objects. The problem of space and the inter- 
relations of its divisions was dimly in the minds of Giotto and 
his contemporaries. How long the early Italians felt the 
integrity and continuity of lines before it was definitely stated 
that they were not primarily the outlines of tangible articles it 
is now impossible to say. It is enough that principles of per- 
spective have expanded as science has progressed, that colour 
and light have come to be understood as one and the same 
thing." 1 

The original and striking cinema aesthetic technique of 
" Caligari " has exerted a world-wide influence. It shaped, for 
instance, the very unusual Russian motion picture " Aelita," a 
Martian fantasy, the combined work of Alexandra Exter, a 
Kamerny Theatre decorator, and Isaac Rabinovitch, also a 
prominent Moscow theatre decorator. 2 

If the German cinema appeared at this early date of 
recovery to be slipping into a whirlpool world of uncommer- 
cial isms and rhythms, expressionist, cubist, constructivist, and 
the rest, it was not allowed to go beyond the golden plummet's 
sounding. The Film Kings were disposed to be indulgent but 
not to let virtuosity go too far. There was a public appetite 
demanding to be satisfied with human emotions. It was for 
this reason, no doubt, that subjects climbed into the subtler 
reaches of the cinema, suited to reflect the abnormal state of 
mind of the German folk in the early post-war days. Two of 
the subjects, " Caligari " and " Mabuse," reflect a mad world,. 

1 Elliot Paul, in " Transition," American Number, Summer, 1928. 

2 Note.—' 4 The Theatre Arts Monthly " (New .York), April, 1927, 
relates the treatment of this picture to constructivism. But from Madam 
Exter I gathered that it derives from " Caligari."— Author. 



252 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

an almost unthinkable mental state of gloom and depression 
and horror. Yet it was the mental attitude of the public. " The 
Golem," too, is a study in the bizarre, a subject bound up with 
hunger and misery and suffering. 

Gloom and aesthetic, the eternal emotion and the uncon- 
ventional form, the impulse towards a national purpose and 
an " ennobling " expression (or so it seemed to the expres- 
sionists), such a union could not last in an age that called for 
material not spiritual action. 

As far as I know there has not been another " Caligari " 
of the German cinema. For five or six years I have been asking 
Walden and the members of Sturm Group, " Is there any art 
expression worth seeing in the German cinema? " And, 
always, the answer has been, " Nothing." " What about the 
' artistic ' achievement of, say, the U.F.A. Production Com- 
pany? " A loud laugh. 

The fact is that succeeding the remarkable outburst of 
the " Caligari " days came a return to commercial and photo- 
graphic fetters, that is, comparatively speaking. The technique 
of aesthetic continued to be employed to enrich unusual pictures. 
It was not allowed to take the centre of the screen and shout 
down the human subject as " Caligari " did. It was not 
encouraged to grow out of the subject, to clothe it in its own 
aesthetic with a function of its own, like the protective colour 
that animals put on. It became an accretion stuck on to a 
picture for commercial ends, like the crowds in Griffith's big 
pictures, either to excite curiosity, or to increase sensation. 
Photographic fetters increased with the use of trick photography. 
And critics with no sense of social values applauded the play 
of light and shade, the confusion of subject and form, and 
murmured, " What art ! " 

From 1923 to 1927 the German cinema saw many living 
subjects moulded into eccentric, ill-fitting and concealing shapes. 
It would be possible to quote the titles of a whole galleryful of 
" masterpieces " which tried to speak an " art " jargon and 




C ll O *H ^ 



«ci; 



O to 



O w 



•a c 



JD rG "^ — -2 

■s a-s s c 

M <u -t- >, tJi 

> CJ <U «3 C 

£ « w -, O 

S3 g £ «» £ 

q,!;^ ,h eg 

o k! ,: __ »h 



S 13^ « c 
H'Q <u ^^ 

g »? +j .S -i- 

= ft« ft 
T3 G C <u G 

.5 S § ft§ 

<^ to£ ~ 

r^ ^ ft "£ bo 

D 5 <+h -a 
° *£.£ * 



■S' 9 s§* 

TO JS -ri W TO 

-o &•§- g 

< TO C . ° 

fc TO c« 3 "* u 

^ «, « o" *> " 

/£■* M 

N • G C c 

O^ « TO TO TO .a 







THE DESCENT 253 

are worth study chiefly for their failure to do so. " Waxworks," 
"The Student of Prague," "The Loves of Jean Ney," "The 
Last Moment," " The Man who Laughs," are " artistic coated 
pills of gloom, morbidity, insanity, weird fantasy, macabre mys- 
teriousness, sex and crime." The technique of some may have 
been influenced by " Caligari," others by technical influences 
which have come from Russia since 191 9, but on the whole, they 
are a proof that the Art of the Cinema is like the " Art of the 
Theatre," nothing more than a carefully-laid plot by aesthetes 
and collaborating intellectuals to prevent the expression by the 
Cinema and the Theatre of contemporary natural, vital and 
human values. 

Soon after 1923 began the United Nation Crusade. The 
Cinema took up the Fight For Life and Light Campaign. It 
made a powerful appeal for unity, strength, fortitude to resist 
foreign attacks and encroachments. From the morbid subject 
that began in 1919, — the subject expressing the tortured and 
abnormal state of mind of the German people, — arose a sub- 
ject that revealed the Cinema coming into closer contact, not 
with the abstract, but with the concrete world of human beings, 
not with the pathological but with the practical political-social 
issues of the nation. It was a subject that had a sociological 
bearing, for it dealt with the adjustment of the German people 
to their new environment under pressure of crisis after crisis. 

It is a noteworthy fact that this tendency was promoted 
by the German Film Kings, whose hands were strengthened 
in this direction by the revolt of not only the cultivated but the 
mass of the German people against the punishment meted out 
to them by the Great Victorious Powers, and against the banali- 
ties of the persistent American pictures. The picture magnates 
took up the powerful weapon of propaganda on behalf of the 
common cause. They ransacked Germany's archives for 
material documentary evidence in support of Germany's claim 
to justice and to real greatness. They flung upon the screen 
one after the other Monumental Historical pictures, such as 

19 



254 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

"The Rhine" (a protest against the French invasion); Spec- 
tacular Pageant Stories, legends such as "The Nibelungs," 
Part I Siegfried; Philosophy and Religion, Classics, like 
"Faust," revolutionary events like "Luther"; National Leader 
pictures, like " Bismarck " and " Prince Louis Ferdinand " (and 
the struggle against Napoleon); War pictures, " The Emden," 
and the German War picture. 

Thus Propaganda took the screen hand in hand with the 
Fatherland and Patriotism. 

When I came to study these extraordinary pictures I noticed 
one significant thing. The stories selected for screen treatment 
generally had two sides — a material and unmaterial one — which 
invited a two-fold treatment. So treated they yielded a blend 
of actuality and fantasy, or whimsicality; actuality and phantasy, 
or regression; of actuality and spirituality. I noticed that the 
attempt to get the blend of actuality and fantasy, and of 
actuality and phantasy was usually very successful; while the 
attempt to express the material and spiritual in one picture was 
invariably a dismal failure. 

For example, the material part of " The Nibelungs " was 
very well thought out and the phantasy (sometimes called by 
mistake fantasy) which is perhaps the essence of the story, seeing 
that it is concerned with those magical, mystical and mysterious 
beginnings to which the human mind is continually returning 
through the subconscious, — this, too, was well handled. It 
seemed to me that the most impressive pictures were those in 
which phantasy had, if not full play, at least as much play as 
might be expected in a picture made on a commercial basis as 
all these monumental propaganda pictures were. They were 
impressive because they harmonised with that peculiar psychic 
stirring and striving which is a marked characteristic of the 
German mind. The phantasy is really a religious one and it 
makes its deep appeal to the old religious complexes inhering 
in the German collective subconscious. To say that the German 
people are truly religious is to utter a commonplace. It is for 



THE DESCENT 255 

this reason that it derived, I think, far more consolation from 
the contemplation of the screened sagas, legends and pageant 
stories, than it did from the big religious pictures. In any case, 
to me these pictures were, spiritually speaking, a failure. I may 
say that I did not expect much from the American samples, 
save religion debauched by the mammonised Film industry, and 
I was not disappointed. I did, however, expect better results 
than I received from the great religious subjects handled by 
such responsible directors as Murnau for German Film Kings 
moved by an ideal of ennoblement. 

When I was invited to see the American version of " Ben 
Hur," a descendant in the direct line of the conversional 
" I. N.R.I." family; and the Hollywood version of "The King 
of Kings," a descendant in the direct line of the De Mille quasi- 
religious family, I prepared for suffering. But when I was in- 
vited to see the portrayal of Goethe's " Faust " and " Luther," 
I fancied I was in for a real helping of Kultur. 

The fact that I was mistaken was brought home to me by 
the opinion of " Ben Hur " expressed by a very intelligent and 
religious German woman who witnessed this picture in my 
company. As we were leaving the Ufa-Pavilion am Nollendorf- 
platz, I said to her, " What do you think of it? " " What are 
the good points?" She answered meditatively, "Generally, 
the make-up. All this," she put her finger on the statistical 
part of the programme which gave in minute detail the facts 
and figures of Mr. Fred Niblo's objective achievement, " all 
this makes a very exciting material shell." I read, " 45 operators, 
some of whom photographed from subterranean trenches, used 
the immense length of 16,000 metres of film. The photography 
was directed from a tower fifty metres high. The director gave 
his orders through a loud speaker and through a telephone 3,600 
metres long. The operators preceded the chariots in motor cars. 
One operator photographed the course from a balloon." They 
were the sensational details of the chariot race. " And what does 
it give you on the spiritual side? " I inquired. " Listen to this. 



256 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

* Carl Hoffmann ' (the creative photographer of the great 
Nibelungs picture) * has so charged with stimmung (mind, 
spirit, the spiritual?) the tremendous spectacle of "Ben Hur " 
that it emanates divine sparks.' ' Or words to this effect. She 
said impatiently and a little passionately, " I hoped to receive 
something spiritual. But the spiritual side . . ." Breaking 
off. " Really I cannot say what I want to say about it, now. 
I am stirred to the depths by the problem of all problems which 
is contained in the story, and of course is not solved by the 
objective treatment, simply because it cannot be so solved; nor 
by philosophic, aesthetic and scientific expression. It is not a 
matter for the brain or the intellect. It is something that goes 
beyond both. It is bound up with truth in the inward parts 
and is detected by the Christian who sets an inward watchful- 
ness over the ' soul,' or ' spirit.' It is to be believed or rejected 
on one's own responsibility." After a pause. " I do not know 
why I came to see this picture. It may be that I dimly expected 
to obtain a little spiritual satisfaction, for which my heart is 
longing, from a subject that has such satisfaction in it. But I 
might have known that I should be disappointed. How can a 
thing made in the coarsening laboratories of Mammon and the 
Machine possess spiritual refinement, an essence that flows from 
the 'soul'?" All of which was metaphysical, but typically 
German. What my friend meant was that there was nothing 
in the material objects in the picture of " Ben Hur " with which 
she could clothe her inward conviction of the truth of Chris- 
tianity. She was a Christian at heart, but " Ben Hur " did not 
convert her to the fact that she was. 

Another evening we went to see " Faust " at the Ufa-Palast 
am Zoo. It should be said that the story of " Faust " is the 
antithesis of the story of " Ben Hur." The one is the negation 
of Christianity, the other the affirmation of Christianity. Thus 
the unique opportunity was afforded of seeing and comparing 
the portrayal of two opposing ideas of Christianity on the screen 
at one time. Besides this, there was the opportunity to com- 



THE DESCENT 257 

pare the German and American methods of treating the big 
religious subject. The different points of view presented by the 
two stories are these. " Ben Hur " says there are but two sides 
of human Life, Good and Bad. Man cannot save himself; God 
will save him. For Christ the problem of sexual sin did not 
exist. The " spirit " in the end overcomes the latter. The story 
reveals how the Romans, representing hard material forces, are 
overcome by the spirit of Christianity. The saving element is 
belief in a higher power. The Romans are not to be overcome 
by human force but by spiritual. In the final scene of the 
picture Ben Hur drops his sword, but not in a manner to sug- 
gest that he is overcome by spiritual grace, has undergone the 
act of conversion, that he has realised truth and is speaking 
it from his heart. He suggests rather that his sword is being 
taken from him by manual force, that in fact he is overcome 
by the sense of a powerful manual force, not by spiritual con- 
version. Of course, this is in harmony with what goes before, 
the mad excitement of the chariot race and the exciting but 
pictorial beauty of the sea fight. The whole thing is in a 
materialistic vein. 

"Faust" contains Goethe's argument that man cannot 
be saved by the love of God. No one can save him except him- 
self. He cannot be saved by pity and compassion but by 
courage. Philosophy would seem to be the saving element. In 
the picture Love is made the atoning and saving element. It 
rules out Goethe and substitutes sentimental slush. Goethe was 
concerned with the triumph of the evil, in the ruin of human 
beings. An accomplished, but pleasure-loving and weak-willed 
man leagues himself to the Devil, the embodiment of super- 
human evil. Faust sells himself for the sake of short-lived 
sensual gratification — the possession of the virgin Gretchen. 
The love scenes are meant to be scenes of mockery. In the picture 
they are scenes of bathos. According to one eminent inter- 
preter, " the tissue of the piece is mockery, misery and disaster." 
According to Murnau, or whoever was responsible for the ending 



258 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

of the picture, Faust is rescued from the burning and ascends 
with Gretchen, lift-like, to heaven on the wings of Love. The 
much-over-rated Emil Jannings (the much-beloved of the Eng- 
lish intellectuals because of his marvellous ability to act with his 
back) 1 as Mephisto was mildly amusing. Instead of the personi- 
fied principle of evil capable of rousing the diabolical sympathies 
of the audience, he was more like the embodiment of FalstarT. 
Again I asked my companion, "What has this given you? " 
She bit her lip and remained silent. 

Mr. C. B. Cochran presented this picture at the Royal 
Albert Hall, London. He also expressed an opinion on it. Here 
it is: 

" Mr. Cochran said yesterday that he considers ' Faust ' not 
only the best, most spacious, and lovely film he has ever seen, 
but also the best realisation of a familiar subject ever achieved 
pictorially." 2 

Mr. Cecil De Mille's " King of Kings " likewise made its 
way to London, where the triumph it achieved was that of 
getting into the columns of the Press and of leading sensible 
persons to desert their senses. The version I saw in Berlin im- 
pressed me still further with the fact that the camera cannot 
go beyond its own domain no matter how hard well-inten- 
tioned photographers strive to make it do so, even by putting, 
as they claim to do, the human mind into it and setting aside, 
as far as they are able, that of the Film Kings' mentality. Says 
a prominent writer, "The camera in itself has no artistic value; 
it is merely a recording instrument. It is as essentially unselec- 
tive as nature itself; the only difference being that it reduces the 
full play of natural colour to gradations of black and white. 
The result is that the best of the so-called art-photographers — 
men like Craig Annan, Horsley Hinton, Edouard Steichen, 
Alfred Stieglitz, Alvin Colburn — were forced in order to pro- 
duce good photographs to become trained observers of the 

1 See " Close Up." 

2 The Daily Mail, November 25th, 1926. 



THE DESCENT 259 

degree of and shade in any given subject; they arranged their 
material, waited for the favourable moment, took innumerable 
negatives of the same subject, picked out the best, and displayed 
their full craftsmanship in the control they exercised over the 
printing of their happiest efforts." 1 By this method of selecting, 
sifting and arranging material, the photographer, we are asked 
to believe, puts art expression into, or extracts it from, the 
camera. " The film, in so far as material goes, is rooted in 
actuality. What gives it artistic possibility is that it can com- 
bine actuality of scene and of event to a far higher degree than 
is possible on the stage. It can relate each episode of a long 
story to its appropriate background . . . thus the film solves 
the problem which agitated Ibsen and most of the great 
dramatists of the later nineteenth century." 2 All the same, it 
fails where Ibsen succeeded, namely, in communicating his re- 
ligious mysticism to the spectator. " The mystical temperament 
and habit of mind of Ibsen made him contemplate man in all 
his relations as a spiritual being — a spiritual being in a material 
environment which, by the nature and laws of his life he can 
govern for good or ill." 3 

The New Testament teaches that Christ was a spiritual 
being in a material environment. He had a dual individuality. 
As his names imply he was Jesus the Man and Christ the God. 
This means that he was able to extend his individuality to 
heaven. Swedenborg, the mystic, claimed to have a similar 
power. He too was able to extend his individuality to heaven 
where he held conversations with the Deity. 

In the moving-picture, " The King of Kings," Christ is 
not a spiritual being in a material environment. He is simply 
a material being without any mysticism in his character. To 
me Mr. H. B. Warner was a crepe hair-and-spirit-gum Christ, 
and he moved in a setting and under circumstances that had no 

1 " The Philosophy of the Film," by John Gould Fletcher, " Art- 
work," Autumn, 1928. 

2 Ibid. 

3 " Henrick Ibsen, Poet and Mystic," by Henry Rose. 



260 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

spiritual force. Mr. Warner is a professional actor not a mystic. 
In this respect he is unlike the simple peasant who takes the 
part of Christ in The Oberammergau Passion Play. There is 
far more religious fervour and mysticism in his characterisa- 
tion. 

There were English critics, including literary ones, who 
held a different opinion. One of the latter let himself go as 
follows : " Mr. Warner's impersonation of Our Lord has notice- 
able defects . . . but ... he does leave behind him 
the impression of a really beautiful presence, of sinlessness, of 
a wisdom, patience and charity more than human." 1 My 
italics. Other Opinions. " The spiritual effect of the picture 
is so intense that even a topical news reel must spoil it." 2 One 
would think it would be the reverse. 

" In spite of these faults, the film is a reverent and moving 
illustration of the story of the Cross." 3 " ' The King of Kings ' 
lacks spirituality; it lacks true understanding; it completely lacks 
inspiration." 4 " No person can impersonate Jesus Christ, no 
producer can materialise the divine." 5 " Should a film actor 
play the part? Anton Lang plays the part at Oberammergau." 6 
" Not an illustration of the Bible story, but an illustrated Holly- 
wood story with Christ left out." 7 

" If the film is taken as it stands and for what it is worth, 
it must be regarded as a sincere and at many moments faithful 
and deeply affecting reproduction of New Testament incidents. 

" Much of it is alarmingly naive and unimaginative, and 
there are serious defects. The opening scenes of senseless luxury 
in the home of the courtesan, Mary Magdalene, are absurdly over- 
emphasised. In what town in Syria outside Damascus could 
such a home as hers be found at that period of history? The 

1 J. C. Squire, The Observer, December 18, 1927. 

2 D. L. McE., The Sunday Pictorial, October 30, 1927. 

3 E. A. Baughan, The Daily News, December 15, 1927. 

4 The Evening Standard, December 15, 1927. 
* The Daily Express, December 15, 1927. 

« Press, December 15, 1927. 
7 Ibid. 



THE DESCENT 261 

alliance between Mary and Judas Iscariot is an unnecessary em- 
bellishment. 

" The whole of this incident, together with its garish colour- 
ing, its leopards and prancing zebras, its ogling effeminates, 
and the seven deadly sins assailing the convert, should be ruth- 
lessly eliminated. 

' There is a needlessly realistic de Mille earthquake towards 
the end of the picture, including a far-fetched impression of the 
tree, with Judas hanging from its branches, pitching headlong 
into a cavity in the earth. 

' The incident of the woman taken in adultery is carried too 
far, much further than in the New Testament. The entire point 
of Christ turning and looking at St. Peter after the denial is 
lost by being repeated three times. Simon of Cyrene is repre- 
sented as offering to carry the cross. Caiaphas is undignified 
throughout. The call of Matthew is wholly altered. The 
treatment of the Cup after the Last Supper is open to criticism." 1 

Publicity : 

" Whatever the merits of the film may be there is no other 
word but ' bilge ' in which to characterise the way in which the 
plain story of the life of Christ as set forth in the Gospels has 
been much " written up " in the programme. 

" The opening scene, we learn, is : — The brilliant banquet 
of Mary Magdalene at Magdala, whence the witty, beautiful 
hostess of Judean and Roman aristocrats stormed forth to seek 
' this carpenter ' at Capernaum. In the film she jumps scantily 
clad into a chariot drawn by six zebras ! " 2 The German Press 
was far worse. 

Economics : 

" The much-discussed American film on the life of Christ 
called ' The King of Kings,' which, to the general surprise, was 
recently authorised for presentation here by the London County 

1 The Morning Post, December 15, 1927. 

2 The Sunday Chronicle, October 30, 1927. 



2.62 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Council, will probably be shown at Covent Garden. It is 
believed that ^1,000 a week is the price required by the film 
company, so only a very large house could make it pay." 1 

It is a relief to turn from this American concoction of scenes 
in the life and death of Christ, to the reverently handled though 
not spiritually satisfying, German picture, " Martin Luther." 
This picture was publicly exhibited in London mainly through 
the enterprise and persistence of Mr. Stuart Davis, the energetic 
manager of the Avenue Pavilion Cinema, known as the House 
of Silent Shadow owing to the policy of the management of 
showing unusual silent pictures only. Before " Luther " could 
be shown the objections of the Censor had to be overcome, and 
a drastic cutting submitted to which was the cause of some of 
the most significant scenes being eliminated. It underwent a 
similar treatment in Berlin. 

" The new film, ' Martin Luther,' manufactured for the 
Ufa Company by Hans Keyser, part author of the ' Faust ' film, 
has aroused controversy and caused the Catholic bishops in 
Berlin to protest and express their expectation that no Catholic 
will visit it. The pictures of Tetzel as a lively auctioneer 
revivalist selling indulgences to gay sinners is the chief point of 
these objections. 

" The Ufa Company states that the censor cut much out of 
it. It gives fine pictures of Luther's visit to Rome, of his trial 
at Worms, and of the peasants storming the churches against 
his wishes. It is worthy to rank with the best things that ever 
came from the Ufa studios. A Jesuit friend, in whose company 
I saw it, declared that the scenes of Luther's initiation as an 
Augustinian monk were dignified and accurate, and praised its 
objectivity in showing that the German princes supported 
Luther from self-interest." 2 

The Times inquest on the battered corpse revealed that in 
the coroner's opinion : 

i The Manchester Guardian, December 1, 1927. 

2 From The Observer's Berlin Correspondent, February 19, 1928. 



THE DESCENT 263 

M Martin Luther cannot be regarded as a fair specimen of 
modern German film work. As it comes to us it fails either 
to create character or to draw a picture of the times in a way 
to compel illusion; and it is not easy to believe that it had any 
greater dramatic merit when it left the studio than it now 
possesses. The producers have been content to make of Luther 
a conventional hero of the films and to invest the story of his 
life with all the glamour of false romance. The obstacles put 
in his path seem unreal and his enemies are all of lath and 
plaster. Luther's spiritual and intellectual development is con- 
veyed in terms that have long ago lost their power to persuade 
us of their truth. A storm on a rocky plain, all flashes of 
lightning and flying sand, has to serve to suggest the spiritual 
experience which sent him into a convent, and the worldliness 
of the Papal Court is sketched in with a leisureliness which only 
emphasizes its lack of distinction. 

' The rest of his history is set forth in scenes which do 
nothing to persuade us that it offers a very suitable theme to 
the film. We are given a scene of drunken revelry to describe 
the evils which Luther found in the sale of indulgences; we see 
Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the church door; and we see 
him before the Diet at Worms swaying the mind of the young 
Emperor with his eloquence and incurring the violent hostility 
of the Spaniards. With the spectacle of Luther translating the 
Bible the film falls temporarily into an obscurity from which 
it emerges to end a sketchy record of the great reformer's life 
with a scene showing him calming his riotous followers from the 
pulpit of a church in Wittenberg. The captions, which in- 
clude a quotation from Browning, are as undistinguished as the 
general direction of the film." 1 

The following is a synopsis of the story. It opens with 
Luther's return to Erfurt as a teacher. He witnesses the murder 
of a teacher by nobles. Takes a solemn vow to raise the fiery 
cross of revolt. Appears in a scene symbolical of a great storm 

1 The Times, September 30, 1929. 



264 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

overthrowing the Cross. He becomes a Black monk. He is 
sent on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here the scenes of Papal luxury 
dismay him and greatly strengthen his revolutionary purpose. 
There is the burning of the Papal Bull. Luther is sent to 
Wittenburg where he is horrified at the wanton sale of indulg- 
ences. He nails his famous ninety-five theses to the Cathedral 
door. The revolt spreads. Then Worms and the theological 
discussion. Luther appears in shining armour in the pulpit. 
He rebukes the crowd for its destruction of treasures. The 
final scenes are disjointed " shots " of martyrdom, and of happi- 
ness won by the Reformation. 1 

What light does the picture throw on the character of 
Luther. It suggests rather than actually shows, that he is a 
great crusader armed with a fiery sword of indignation. It 
suggests the following description: "Martin Luther, the father 
of Protestantism, was a fighter, the man who flamed through 
mediaeval Europe like a prairie fire, burning Papal Bulls, defying 
kings and emperors, being pitched into prison, laughing at the 
Pope, nailing his decrees to church doors, and preaching with 
the lungs of an ox, the courage of a Bersek." 2 It is hard to 
gather from this whether Luther was a man of faith, the best 
type of the class of the religious devotee armed with a great 
religious ideal necessary to reform the Church of his day, 
gathering around him all whom fortune or chance had 
brought within his religious influence, or merely an ambitious 
politician provided with a scheme rather of self- than national- 
aggrandisement, and putting forth his fifteen points at Marburg, 
fourteen of which were accepted, after the manner of President 
Wilson's at Versailles. 

By Germany Luther is accepted as a reformer with an 
intense religious conviction. He pursued a purpose and up- 
held a faith which have a strong significance for to-day. The 
Luther of the moving picture does not communicate a 

1 See The Manchester Guardian, August 30, 1929. 

2 James Douglas in The Sunday Express, August 11, 1929. 



THE DESCENT 265 

spiritual experience. Actually the picture is a contribution to 
the understanding of the deeper reasons underlying the world 
war conflict, and is extremely valuable on this account. I think 
the English critics lost sight of this fact. In any case, I did not 
come across a criticism that sought to relate the religious revo- 
lution of four centuries ago with the one that is taking place 
to-day. This neglect by critics to read current events into the 
best pictures is a common one. 

When I went to see the picture in Germany I took with 
me the questions, " Why has this picture been produced to-day? 
What significance has it for our time? " I received satisfactory 
answers, which proved to me that the picture enabled the 
Cinema to fulfil a good function. Later I took my questions 
to a German friend, a prominent protestant clergyman. It was 
he who wrote the " Luther " manuscript, but as he did not 
altogether agree with its treatment by the director of the 
picture, he withheld his name. 

He said that the significance of Luther for our time could 
not be overrated. In a sense the world war was waged not 
only against the peculiar growth of German political and 
economic power but also mainly against the forces underlying 
this growth, i.e., the protestant empire of the Hohenzollern 
dynasty. He alluded to the reference by Dr. E. Ludwig, the 
famous Jewish writer, to the utterance of a high functionary of 
the Roman Catholic Church, that the Pope had won the War. 
This victory of the Pope is, in the light of German history, 
synonymous with the downfall of Prussia, the arch-enemy of 
Roman ambitions in Germany. It is, however, not only the 
radical wing of Roman Catholicism that might well rejoice at 
this victory but other forces that are said to make for tyranny. 
All therefore who are opposed to spiritual tyranny, no matter 
where it comes from, should accept the bequest which Luther 
made to us, namely to stand for spiritual freedom. England 
is in no less danger from tyrannical forces than Germany. 
Hence the propaganda value of " Luther " in this country. 



266 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

This book does not pretend to take a side in religious con- 
troversy. Its business is interpretation of the Cinema as a 
medium of expression, human, sociological and other. Still 
I may mention that it was said in the English Press that a 
good deal of opposition to the exhibition of the " Luther " 
picture came from catholic quarters. It was pointed out that 
the censor, the later Mr. T. P. O'Connor was a catholic. But 
he denied that he was moved in any way by his religious con- 
victions in, at first, refusing to allow the picture to be exhibited, 
and later, in permitting it to be shown after he had sanctioned 
extremely stupid cuts. The history of religious intolerance is a 
very long and sad one. To-day there is undoubtedly a new 
religious movement. Human beings seemed to be tired of the 
gross materialism imposed upon them by the War. Nothing 
should be ruled out that is likely to help the movement. The 
objection has been raised to Luther himself, by German students, 
that he is too strong and militant an individuality in the strict 
Christian sense. But militancy is implicit in the declarations of 
the Gospel Christ. From his life and teachings it is quite clear 
that he came to mankind not to be overcome, Faust-like, by the 
principle of evil but to fight it. 

I have dealt at length with the content of the German 
pictures from 1919 to 1926, because there is no doubt that the 
makers of the pictures have been obsessed with content rather 
than with form. And if we may believe that they held the 
opinion that the function of the German picture is to express 
" soul ", then it is logical to believe that the object of putting 
" soul " into the German pictures was to introduce the German 
people to their own " soul." I am not sure in what sense the 
metaphysical term " soul " is used. Both " soul " and 
" spirit " are vague, but their use cannot be avoided here. The 
point I am concerned with is that the attitude of the German 
Film Kings and intellectuals towards the post-war cinema 
justified my belief that an examination of the pictures would re- 
veal far more evidence in support of my argument than pic- 



THE DESCENT 267 

tares produced in the victorious countries. I mean the 
argument that when the Cinema is properly handled 
it fulfils a function for man. If I cannot say that 
I detected the German cinema introducing the German 
people to their own " soul," as I understand the term, I can 
certainly say that I found it stirring the subconscious, the in- 
stinctive and the scientific in the audience more perhaps than it 
appeared to do in those regions of battle, revolution, disease 
and death, with which I have dealt in the early part of my 
story. Metaphysics, philosophy, religion, science, aesthetic,, 
politics, that is, social politics, economics, and social life, have 
all comprised the constituents of significant German pictures. 
As I have shown, they have done so for a national purpose, that 
of securing national unity during a period of storm and stress. 
Unfortunately this use of the Cinema as an organic part of the 
life of the nation, and as such capable of reflecting its memory 
and aspiration has not been elevated to a permanent policy. It 
was a policy adopted and followed from 1919 to 1926 only, fol- 
lowed, that is, as far as economic conditions would permit. 
Since 1926 there has been a backsliding. To-day Germany is 
reaping the reward of a financial alliance with Hollywood. 
The great energy, the enterprise, the technical advance that have 
gone to the making of pictures in the past have been sold to, or 
pawned with American magnates who in return have debauched 
Germany with their picture productions. Whether it is Ger- 
many's fault I am unable to say. My impression is that Ger- 
many is and has for some time, been in a deplorable economic 
condition. The impression is not shared by everyone. Not 
long ago Lord Rothermere stated in the Daily Mail that before 
the War, England was the richest country in the world. To-day 
is it fourth. America comes first, France second, Germany third. 
Each of these are making enormous taxation reductions this year. 
Germany proposes to lower taxation by ^45,000,000. Against 
this optimistic view let me place a few facts gathered from 
first-hand and reliable German sources. " The number of un- 



268 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

employed is fast increasing again and on December 5th, 1929, 
amounted to 1,250,000. German towns once boasted of 
exemplary management; they rivalled each other in lowest taxa- 
tion. Now they rival each other in large deficits." (A state- 
ment made during the session of the Reichverband Deutscher 
Industrieller). " Berlin the capital of the Reich is being 
drowned in corruption and bankruptcy " (from a Berlin 
economic journal). " There is hardly a day you do not find 
in the newspapers the announcement of some bank, co-operative 
society or other firms having gone bankrupt. Many bankers 
have either fled abroad or committed suicide or both." (Press 
statement.) On December 12th, 1929, the reichskanzler, the 
social democrat Miiller, declared in the Reichstag that the funds 
of the Reich will be empty on January 1st, 1930." This was 
stated in December, 1929. A political sign of the present 
economic situation in Germany appeared in the election for the 
federal diets and the townships on November 17th, 1929. " The 
radical parties increased vastly at the expense of the middle 
parties." The interpretation put upon this by moderates was 
that the economic situation was so bad that it was strengthening 
the idea of armed revolution. 

The cinema signs — the signs with which I am chiefly 
concerned leave no doubt in my mind that Germany, in common 
with European countries, is on the verge of economic collapse. 
Since 1926 it has known the increasing activities of a group of 
five big American Producing Companies represented by Warner 
Brothers, Fox, Goldwyn, Zukor, and Loew. These, together 
with their bankers and financial supporters have established a 
financial dictatorship. 

In 1926 I noticed that the German cinema was beginning 
to pass under this dictatorship. Everywhere I saw signs of an 
amazing change, of disintegration, of economic chaos. The 
golden age (as I may call the 1920-25 period of production) was 
practically at an end. Some fragments remained to remind one 
of the " ennoblement " policy — the policy that was to put 




1926. German UFA production. The Holy Mountain. One of the 
German films made in Switzerland at a height of 12,000 feet by Dr. A. Franck, 
assisted by expert Alpinists as actors and camera-men. Another is The White 
Hell of Pits Palu exhibited in England by Universal Pictures. The general 
theme is human adventure and conquest of nature with an occasional note of 
tragedy, as in Pits Palu. The scene above shows the dancer, Leni Reisenstahl, 
and Alpinist, Luis Trenker. In 1926 such pictures harmonised with the feeling 
of a people fighting against terrible economic disaster and tossed between 
triumph and tragedy. 



THE DESCENT 269 

" soul " into the commercial picture. There were two or three 
in the programme of The Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (or 
U.F.A. for short), at that time the biggest German production 
and distributing organisation, with branches all over Germany, 
and connections in all European countries. It had a working 
and reserve capital of 60,000,000 Reichemark and was spending 
enormous sums on production. The first item on the pro- 
gramme was " Faust," illustrating the triumph of the evil 
principle to remind the German people of the evil that 
threatened them from without and the courage needed to over- 
come it. It was a fine theme spoilt by foolish treatment and 
the American canker of false ethics. Then there was Lang's 
muddled " Metropolis " also cankered with false ethics, with 
ill-digested ideas of American civilisation, and strongly touched 
by Soviet Russian influences then making themselves felt in the 
German cinema. I need not say more about this queer 
and alleged prophetic picture, for Mr. H. G. Wells has dealt 
with its intentions and pretensions in a complete manner. 1 The 
third item, " The Holy Mountain," written and produced by 
Dr. Arnold Fanck, was a blend of sport, sensation and mysticism 
which on the whole was far nearer to the " ennoblement " pur- 
pose than " Metropolis." Another item was " A Dubarry of 
To-day," U.F.A. Felsom Film, an historical picture of passion 
and sex. It was instructive in recalling the portrayal of a sub- 
ject then very much the fashion, namely, republicanism seen 
through the eyes of the commercial picture makers. The result 
was a new imperialism; a new fashionable world repeating the 
excesses and expressing the ideology of the fashionable world 
which the War is supposed to have swept away. Dubarry 
fans a revolution. But the guillotine has an easy time for 
there is no cry of off with her head except in the 
" Alice in Wonderland " sense. The end is amusing. " The 
Chaste Suzanne," U.F.A. Eichberg Film adapted from the 
very successful operetta of that name, brought me very close to 

1 See Sunday Express, April 17, 1927. 



270 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Hollywood and away from the German cinema as a culture 
factor. 

I recognised another fragment in the Catastrophe pictures, 
produced partly for propaganda, partly, no doubt, for profit 
though it was hard to say where the profit was coming from 
in documentary pictures more than one of which cost a king's 
ransom to produce. I have in mind, in particular, the 
kaleidescopic picture of the World War aiming to tell the truth, 
but hindered in doing so by its magnitude, and by the fact that 
naval and military events of a terrible war cannot be convinc- 
ingly reconstructed from archives and in cold blood. The 
" Emden " picture, though significant, is open to similar 
criticism. It seemed to me that the fashion in German war 
pictures, like that in war novels (some of which, like " All 
Quiet on the Western Front," are too horrible for words), was 
more than a step from grace. The former use of the Cinema to 
secure national unity to strengthen the resistance of the people, 
to promote reconstruction and recovery, was highly commend- 
able. But not the same may be said for the exhibition of war 
pictures which, even at their best, are, like war novels, calculated 
to do immeasureable harm to the cause of peace by fomenting 
hatred and all uncharitableness and, thereby, to keep alive and 
intensify a craving for war. 

I noticed that Party politics propaganda pictures were being 
exhibited in increasing numbers. And the cause? Here it is. 
Industrial and newspaper magnates were seizing the opportunity 
afforded by the financial troubles of the big Film production 
companies, to acquire vast interests in these concerns for 
nationalist purposes. Their aim was Press dictatorship, political 
and economic. 

"It is announced that a group representing the industrial, 
newspaper, and banking world is coming to the rescue of the 
greatest of Germany's film enterprises, the Universum Film 
Company, commonly known as the Ufa, which has been in diffi- 
culties. 




s-s 



.2 u 3 



> ~ gJl 



H^3 



C~ 2 ^ "^ " 

» Q* M <u g 

.a " 8"§i 

c c £ o 

« O £ C C 



% •£ -S ^ ^ 

C 3 £ 9 

. 3 £ 

k J 3i CD _£; 



■— <U u In 

£ M '5b"3 



C to O * 

§> T3 O £ 

^ C 3 £ u • 

ns 3-r^-a 

•S(S * §• I s 

O Or- O U 

3 <U « x W ~ 

P Or^ C 

££•: s c^ 

£ >. c « 

v — ' . O i_ c ~* 

n *- x o 'H C 

C* C/5 -M 4_, ■= 3 



THE DESCENT 271 

" Its troubles are well worth study in Great Britain. There 
is ^7,500,000 invested in the Ufa. It received a mortgage of 
^840,000 on its theatres from the United States, and in spite of 
this its bank debts now exceed ^2,000,000, while other current 
debts are about ^500,000. 

' Even an expert can hardly understand such a gigantic 
deficit,' writes Dr. Wenkel in the Berliner Tageblatt. ' The 
Ufa has produced monster films on which money was spent like 
water. " Metropolis," which is being shown in London, cost 
^350,000. Not one-seventh of that sum can be got back from 
the German cinema theatres.' 

" Here, as Dr. George Bernhard points out, comes the great 
danger of Germany sacrificing her own ideals of art to provide 
American customers for her films. As it is, German films are 
beginning to show the American spirit. 

" Among those now coming to the rescue is stated to be 
Dr. Hugenberg, the Nationalist and Monarchist, who already 
exercises more influence on the German Press than any one 
man and who desires to add films to his means of propaganda. 
Republicans regard this as the most serious danger to Germany 
both at home and abroad." 1 Enormous debts; Nationalist and 
Monarchist liquidators; the American " soul " in pictures. 

Who was behind this political propaganda movement? 
Dr. Hugenberg the head of a powerful group of Nationalist and 
Monarchist newspapers, a former director of Krupps, and later 
the head of the Scherl Concerns. For the past five or six 
years he has been engaged cornering the German Film Industry. 
" Dr. Alfred Hugenberg has enormous propaganda resources at 
his disposal. He controls important Film interests and owns 
several influential newspapers. He still retains connection with 
armament manufacturers." 2 

An effect : 

"As is well known, the policy of the Ufa Company in 

1 The Daily Mail, March 28, 1927. 

2 The Sunday Referee, October 6, 1929. 



272 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Germany is largely directed by the Nationalist magnate Alfred 
Hugenberg, whose influence in the topical news section is para- 
mount. It is this news section which is regarded as more im- 
portant in its general tendency than the big films whose story 
is so largely dependent upon ' production values.' These 
would seldom include as main theme the glorification of a 
Communist hero, or the happy home life of a Socialist family. 
But a resolute determination to boycott all topical films taken 
of strikes and demonstrations, parades inspected by generals 
and expensive sporting contests in the cinemas controlled by 
those who believe Labour should be kept in its place is a power- 
ful propagandist weapon." 1 

Another effect. The Government are led to acquire control 
of an important Production Company through shares. " The 
government of the Reich have acquired for political reasons 
shares in the Munich Film Company, known as the Emelka. 
The object is to prevent this Company passing into the hands 
of the Ufa Company which is controlled by Herr Hugenberg, 
the financier and newspaper owner." 2 Emelka has several am- 
bitious pictures to its credit, one of which The Marquis D'Eon 
is said to have cost 1,000,000 gold marks. 3 

It should be pointed out that pictures which were the out- 
come of this political civil war were not much good for im- 
proving the economic condition of German Film Industry be- 
cause such pictures were not fit for foreign markets. 

A further sign of the decline of the German Film Industry 
showed itself in a glut of American pictures. Monumental 
films of the type of " Ben Hur," " Beau Geste," (bepraised by 
Lord Beaverbrook on account of its English gesture) were arriv- 
ing daily. That was in 1926-7. I marvelled thereat when I 
recalled that the German Government had passed a protectionist 
measure about 1925 : 

"The Kontingent, equivalent to the quota, although 

1 The Observer, June 17, 1928. 

2 The Sunday Referee, October 20, 1929. 

3 See The Manchester Guardian, August 18, 1928. 



THE DESCENT 273 

applied differently, has enabled Germany to become second to 
America as a producing country, and in some respects first in 
quality. Germany has established a film school permeated with 
a distinctive national spirit and character, much more so than 
has America, where the majority of pictures are more machine 
made. Standardization kills art in moving pictures as in other 
things. 

" In the last two years Germany has produced nearly half 
the pictures required for the home markets. In a statement 
given to me last year by the German Minister of the Interior, 
who is responsible for the control of the Kon tin gent, he 
said : — 

" According to the heads of our film industry, if the 
Kontingent system had not been introduced the German film 
industry would have been swamped by American films. 

* There were 201 long films made in Germany during 1925, 
462,000 metres in length, and 306 long films imported of 579,000 
metres in length. There were therefore 507 long films avail- 
able in the market. 

" For the year 1926, Germany produced a few more pic- 
tures than in 1925. The German industry seems to be in a 
healthy condition, though the Ufa Company which possesses 
two large studios out of 30 in the neighbourhood of Berlin, and 
owns about 100 theatres out of 4,000 in Germany (it owns 30 
theatres abroad), last year only produced 15 pictures, or 7 per 
cent of the German output. There are over 60 producers in 
Germany, and a number of studios in six other centres outside 
the Berlin Hollywood, the chief of which is Munich. " x 

" Germany which reduced the percentage of American 
pictures by its * kontingent ' law, has fallen once more into the 
hands of the Americans, who advanced money for production 
purposes, and then drew nearly every first-class producer and 
player away to America." 2 

* Robert Donald, Letter to The Times, April 6, 1927. 
2 W. G. Faulkner, " The Daily Mail Year Book," 1927. 



274 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

To judge by this and America's subsequent stranglehold 
on the German picture trade, it seems this protective measure 
has not been any more successful in countering the American 
invasion than the English one. In any case, American Film 
Kings appeared to be running Berlin in the years mentioned. 
They were buying up wholesale German directors and actors — 
among them Murnau, Lubitsch, Emil Jannings, and Conrad 
Veidt, and offering big bribes to others such as Max Reinhardt. 
They were subsiding the building of palatial and luxury cinemas, 
such as the Beba, the Rialto and the Kristall Palaces. 1 And 
what is perhaps more important, they were fomenting a political 
war. 

" According to reports of the new films America is making, 
advance pictures of which are occasionally shown in Berlin, as 
war pictures decline in favour, so the Russian Revolution, seen 
from the anti-Red angle, is growing in popularity. Beginning 
shyly with the great German actor Jannings as an ex-aristocrat 
and general, the new film, * The Red Tempest/ is definitely 
in favour of things as they were. 

" Berlin, where many new Soviet Russian films are being 
shown, and everything is welcomed and nothing forbidden 
owing to the extreme wariness with which censors have to 
tread, will therefore be the battleground of the political pictures 



"2 

war. 



Needless to say this kind of thing set many persons read- 
ing Bolshevism into pictures that did not contain it. One news- 
paper identified " Volga Volga " with " Potemkin " and found 
a striking resemblance between the boat song and " The Red 
Flag." Another was exceedingly angry because in the picture 
made from Hauptmann's " Weavers," it detected revolutionary 
mass ideas. 

The following facts and figures are worth quoting as throw- 
ing light upon the financial difficulties which have led to the 

i " Berlin Z-Mittag," Number 244, November 2, 1926. 
2 The Observer, June 17, 1928. 



THE DESCENT 275 

present plight of the German Film Industry. A meeting was 
called to consider the question of the re-organisation of the 
U.F.A. Company, at which Herr Hugenberg was elected chair- 
man of the new governing board. 

"In the course of the meeting a mass of interesting in- 
formation and figures was given in explanation of the financial 
difficulties in which the ' Ufa ' became involved. Herr von 
Stauss attributed a number of the mistakes, which the old 
management frankly admitted, to the peculiar development 
through the inflation period from a semi-official war under- 
taking to a private enterprise. He also considered that very 
heavy taxation had been largely responsible for the company's 
difficulties. It was admitted that the calculation of costs had 
often been very wide of the mark. The costs of production for 
1925 to 1926, estimated at 10,000,000m. (£500,000), amounted 
to about 26,000,000m. (£1,300,000); revenue from distribution, 
estimated at 40,000,000m. (£2,000,000), amounted to less than 
half that sum. Metropolis, the big film now being shown in 
London, was to have cost 1,900,000m.; it cost 5,000,000m. 
(£250,000). It was to have taken a year to produce; it took two 
years. As the production dragged on, there was a great tempta- 
tion to put a stop to it and write off the money already spent. 
However, it was completed, and the hope was expressed yester- 
day that the exhibitions in the United States, of which favour- 
able reports have been received, would reduce the loss to less 
than was at first feared. 

" Professor Neumann, a shareholder, who accompanied the 
expedition dispatched to Abyssinia to produce the film depicting 
the capture of large wild animals for menagerie and zoological 
gardens, gave some financial details of this particular under- 
taking. The film was to have cost 45,000m. (£2,250) to pro- 
duce. It cost 115,000m. (£5,750), of which only 43,000m. (£2,150) 
were absorbed by the expedition and all the material for it, while 
70,000m. (£3>5 00 ) represented the cost of the production of 
the film by the educational film department of the * Ufa.' The 



276 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

loss on the film was 80,000m. (£4,000). The Swiss rights it 
was stated, were sold for i,ooof. (^50). ni 

Some time ago the Gaumont Company entered into an 
arrangement with U.F.A. for the exchange and distribution of 
pictures. As a result a number of U.F.A. pictures have been 
exhibited in London. Looking at these pictures it is not hard 
to see the powerful American influences at work. Generally 
they exhibit German republicanism seen through the eyes of 
Hollywood, that is no republicanism at all. 2 And the talkie? 3 

1 The Times, April 23, 1927. 

2 See The Observer, December 11, 1927. 

3 See Appendices. 




1924. Art of the Cinema. Silhouette or Paper- 
cut film. Cinderella. One of the films made for the 
Institut Fur Kulturforschung, Germany (Dr. Hans 
Ciirlis). The series includes, Munchausen and The 
Flying Coffer. The designs are very interesting and 
original. Shown by the Film Society and the Avenue 
Pavilion, London. 




1928. A German production of the Stenka Razin story. Tendencious. It 
reveals the influence of the Soviet stories and film technique on the German film 
productions. Stenka Razin is in circulation as a film story among several 
countries. The version in Soviet Russia is revolutionary, Stenka being a 
national hero ; outside, anti-revolutionary. The illustration shows how advan- 
tage has been taken of the romantic subject to employ a romantic technique. It 
has interesting barbaric aesthetic values. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE CASTLE IN THE AIR: 

THE ESTHETIC HOLLYWOOD OR THE ART OF 
THE CINEMA 

It is appropriate to follow the chapter on Germany with an 
examination of a tendency, very strongly marked in this 
country, and other countries abroad, known as The Art Of The 
Cinema. The tendency in England owes a great deal to 
German inspiration and influence. Within the past three or 
four years it has received the added influence of the Bolshevist 
picture, distributed by Bolshevist organisations in Berlin. 
Several revolutionary pictures have been exhibited in Berlin 
which have not been permitted to be shown in this country. 
Owing to the fairly large number of Bolshevist pictures exhibited 
in Berlin, that city has of late become the Mecca of the aesthete 
in search of adventures among revolutionary films, and of 
evidence by which he may slay the British censor. 

The Art of the Cinema tendency is to-day a very involved 
one owing to its close association with the crusade against 
censorship. I shall, therefore, do no more in this chapter than 
state the bare, but rather extraordinary, facts of the tendency 
in its relation to the war on censorship. I have already, in 
other parts of this book, dealt with the Cinema and art expres- 
sion. I have ventured the opinion that there is a plot on the 
part of those concerned with the Art of the Cinema tendency 
to drive the social subject out of the Cinema. They aim to put 
the technique of aesthetic where the portrayal of human life 
should be. It seems to me that the only form of art expression 

277 



278 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

(if it may be called art expression) that rightly belongs to the 
Cinema is that of the natural aesthetic of an object as when 
a spider weaves a web out of itself, or, as The Secret of Nature 
picture natural objects unfold and clothe themselves in their 
own aesthetic, through the exercise of the power of art expres- 
sion inhering in themselves. 

I have said that the Cinema has three forms of expression 
each of which is capable of putting the principle of " art " power 
to practical use. The three are actuality, phantasy and fantasy. 
The first is the portrayal of actual objects; the second of objects 
that stir the subconscious; the third of objects that have a 
whimsical expression. The big German Fatherland pictures 
come within the region of phantasy; the "Felix the Cat" and 
" Mickey Mouse " cartoons are full of whimsical humour com- 
bined with a sociological significance and satire. In brief, my 
contention is that the camera is a mechanical instrument which 
by reason of its mechanical character cannot express the spiritual 
save as it is suggested by a natural object and its form. 
In my view, Art rightly considered is an active principle of the 
spiritual. That is what a study of Indian philosophy taught 
me. 

Why a Wing of Hollywood? Because this cinema in the 
air, called Art Cinema, cannot be dissociated from economic 
activities of Hollywood. The groups that have sprung up, and 
those that are springing up to support it have, and must have, 
a financial organisation. They must organise themselves finan- 
cially because money has so much to do with their establish- 
ment, and in keeping them alive. It is as much a power in the 
so-called Art Cinema as it is in the frankly commercial one. 
Despite the assertion of these groups that they are not concerned 
with money, and do not aim to make profit, they are virtually 
private business enterprises aiming at a profit to carry on their 
benevolent activities. The Film Society, for example, is an in- 
vestment and dividend society. If it observes certain conditions 
it conducts its business as it pleases. It receives rent 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 279 

from seats. It invites the public to invest its money 
in a going concern. For an outlay of three guineas a year 
you receive a sight of eight programmes. The 1,000 or 
so members pay their subscriptions in advance and the financial 
organisation is the gainer by this through having payment in 
advance of services. Unless you pay this subscription, or are a 
member of the Press and able to offer publicity in exchange for 
a seat, or are attached to a newspaper sufficiently powerful to 
frighten The Film Society into giving you a seat, whether you 
review the pictures or not, you get nothing. I was once foolish 
enough to ask to be allowed to sample The Film Society's com- 
modities and was promptly told that experts like myself were 
expected to buy the commodities; that the Society was obliged to 
give seats to critics, otherwise their editors would make 
trouble. 

My point is that these little hole-and-corner concerns have 
some good in them. They seek to destroy some, at least, of the 
evil that the bad Film Kings do. But they refuse to admit that 
they are a part of the great gamble. They refuse to recognise 
that they are a part of Hollywood (a minor part). They close 
their eyes to the fact that this is a financial age, and they pre- 
tend to deny their commercial instincts while professing to fight 
those business persons who have fully developed their commer- 
cial instincts and affirm them every hour of the day. Hence 
their failure to do anything effective. The truth I have in mind 
is crudely stated in the following extract: 

" The intelligentsia are really to blame for the lamentable 
state of mind in which the majority of pictures are made, for 
they professed a disdain for the cinema which caused them to 
leave it alone, with the result that it fell into the hands of men 
who, although they had little education and no artistic sensi- 
bilities, had keen commercial instincts, which told them that 
the moving-picture would produce fortunes for them." 1 

What this writer is trying to say is that if the intellectuals 

1 St. John Ervine, in The Observer, June 16, 1929. 



280 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

want a free hand to go ahead they must have a full purse, and 
the knowledge how to use the purse to the best advantage of 
the Cinema. To overcome Hollywood they must first of all 
copy Hollywood's financial organisation. 

The Art of the Cinema tendency is, like that of the Art 
of the Theatre, a branch of the very old Art for Art's sake 
tendency. It rests on the assumption that art expression in the 
Cinema can be separated from money. Its active supporters are 
" pure " idealists working without a thought of money, or so 
they allege. Indeed, to hear them talk you would think they 
were savages with nothing else to do but to squat on their 
haunches in damp marshes and produce sculptures that are the 
envy of intellectuals under the influence of the negro cult of art 
expression. Ravens, they tell you, bring these savages food, else 
they would starve. 

The Cinema aesthetes have been in existence a long time, 
ever since 1916 or thereabout. They came into existence for the 
purpose of making the Cinema safe for " Art," and fit for 
aesthetic heroes. They despised the commercial Cinema, said it 
was rotten to the core, and served only to make money. They 
ignored the fact that to-day money is the sinews of war, whether 
it be war on bad Film Kings or Hottentots. They believed that 
if only they could establish, even on a small scale, a " pure " 
cinema, it would be sufficient to frighten the bad Film Kings 
into flight. They plotted indeed to remove from the Cinema 
everything but its own " pure " elements, such as they con- 
ceived them. These elements consisted of space, abstraction and 
dynamic aesthetic, that is, movement got by related " colours " 
and forms. The first in the field were painters, sculptors and 
architects, to whose attempt to use space as a plastic material, 
reference has been made in the chapter on Germany. The next 
comers were photographers and directors, who, provided with 
a camera and a box of tricks and a plentiful supply of guess- 
work, proceeded to bewilder the cinema audience with a dis- 
play of aesthetic thimble-rigging. No one ever knew under 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 281 

which stunt thimble the true cinema subject was concealed, or 
whether it was being used at all. 

" Far too few attractive films are being made at the 
present time. These directors have too much cynicism and far 
too much cinecism — a weakness for a few cheap tricks of the 
trade. 

" When ' Vaudeville ' was produced Germany startled the 
world with a new film technique — a technique embracing 
' angles,' moving cameras, double photography. It was excel- 
lent. It was like having absinthe after a course of Devonshire 
cider, but one cannot go on drinking absinthe. These certain 
directors got the absinthe habit. 

" Studios have now become a Bisley of ' good shots.' The 
story is neglected, the audience is neglected; everything is for- 
gotten in order to put a tall, dark man in a black hat in a room 
composed of 25 isosceles triangles. 

' The story, if there is one, is chosen because it savours 
of the sewer. Another trick these directors have copied from 
the Ufa Company. 

"In a film I saw last week the director took a crowd to 
a fair. The effect was like a scrambled egg. The legs of the 
fat woman were super-imposed on a roundabout. A shooting 
range abutted on a whisky bottle. And then I do not know 
what happened. A hundred feet of film was taken up with 
what I suppose were views of the fair. It made one feel sea- 
sick." 1 

Following these came the Bolshevist technicians headed by 
Vertov and Pudovkin. They were seen to be working out a 
science of technique determined first by the policy of the Bol- 
shevist Government according to which the social and the revolu- 
tionary subject comes first in the cinema; second by the evident 
desire to raise the level of the interpretative power of the moving 
picture. For example, the basic theme of " Potemkin " is social 
liberation. The plot or story is a mutiny on a battleship. The 

1 The Evening Standard, July 16, 1928. 



282 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

action is concerned with promoting the idea of revolution. The 
function of the theme is an organic and structural one. It 
brings all engaged in the action together in unity, and it is the 
basis for a revolutionary purpose. " Potemkin " deliberately 
sets out to produce a given emotional effect by communicating 
to the audience its full revolutionary intention. The technique 
is designed to realise this intention. It is powerful, simple, 
clear and capable in every way of communicating the emotional 
values of the picture. To attempt to detach the technique from 
the subject in order to hold the former up as a miracle of art 
expression is too stupid for words. Yet that is what some of the 
cinema aesthetes in this country are doing. 

The association of the Bolshevist directors with the mis- 
guided intelligentsia and aesthetes of Western Europe has led 
them to unloose a flood of foolish terms for no other purpose, 
it would seem, than to conceal the real significance of their own 
useful methods. Thus we have Pudovkin remarking that " the 
foundation of all film art is editing." 1 How long has editing 
had anything to do with art? Again, he speaks of "the basic 
creative force," 2 and one immediately sees the mind of Pudovkin 
putting itself into communion with the universal creative spirit. 
But when we come to examine his method we find that by 
using a term that promises and asserts such union he is simply 
poking fun at his unreasonable admirers. And it may be said 
here that the Russian directors, like Pudovkin and Eisenstein, 
have of late adopted the practice of going about Western Europe 
with the tongue in the cheek, accepting the hospitality of their 
admirers, lecturing in secret, and approving of laws and prin- 
ciples of picture making which they know would not be tolerated 
in their own country. 

How far this Bolshevist technique is from " Art," and 
how closely it approximates to science, may be gathered from 
Pudovkin's statement that the film (meaning the celluloid 

1 See " Pudovkin On Film Technique." 

2 Ibid. 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 283 

ribbon) comes first in picture making. Objects are photographed 
on strips of film. These are cut, sorted, rhythmically assembled 
and pasted together to form a series of scenes, each of which 
is intended to convert the spectator into the director for the time 
being, just as the Government has converted the director into 
a composite likeness of themselves. 1 There is no basic creative 
force required to build up a picture of bits of film, any more 
than there is to assemble a Ford motor. The method enters 
into the region of tricks. But it is a method worth study and 
perhaps approval because in the first place it is of a scientific 
character, and its results are in consequence a great improve- 
ment on the Hollywood guesswork method; and in the second 
it emphasises not suppresses the social subject. 

According to a well-known picture producer : 

'* We have discovered in contemporary films three methods, 
each emphasising a slightly different aspect of the story — the 
film of movement and action, such as ' Three Bad Men ' and 
' Potemkin,' the film which uses the motions and states of mind 
of the characters as pictorial elements such as l The Cabinet of 
Dr. Caligari ' and ' The Last Laugh,' and the film which builds 
up and throws light on the situation by small touches and 
clues such as ' The Woman of Paris ' and most of Lubitsch's 
films." 2 

Throughout the Purists have persisted in their attempt to 
soar into the empyrean of the " absolute " picture. Quite 
recently, some of us have seen in, for example, " Tusalava " 
by Len Lye, and " Light Rhythms " by Francis Bruguiere 
and Oswald Blakeston, how far their wings have carried 
them. 

The Bolshevist pictures had the effect of inciting the 
aesthetes into rebellion against the censorship. The English 
censor's attitude towards revolutionary pictures lashed them 

1 See " Pudovkin On Technique." 

2 Anthony Asquith, in The Daily Mirror, June 1, 1928. 



284 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

into fury. Then came the " Talkie " to add fuel to the flame. 
The Purists rose in furious reaction against an innovation that 
threatened to destroy the silent moving picture. 

During the winter of 1929-30 there sprang up in England a 
tendency which doubtless brought comfort to the perturbed 
" souls " of the aesthetic enthusiasts. The tendency was 
towards the formation of groups for the purpose of stirring up 
active interest among the workers (in particular manual workers 
engaged in industry, agriculture and mining) in plays and 
pictures, expressing their own memory and aspiration. The 
ultimate aim was to encourage such workers to establish their 
own Theatre and Cinema. Till such institution were 
established and the workers were in a position to produce their 
own plays and pictures, these materials should be drawn ready- 
made from favourable sources. Though the groups differed as 
to the constituents of the fare that they were to offer the play 
and picture hungry workers; one assuming that the workers' 
yearning for liberation from capitalistic tyranny was a sign that 
they wanted blood and gloom, while another assumed that 
works by intellectuals suffering from mild attacks of social in- 
dignation, like say, Upton Sinclair's " Singing Jail Birds," 
would meet the requirements of millions sighing for a new 
Eden; all were agreed that Bolshevist Russia had desirable com- 
modities to offer for consumption by the workers in England. 
Needless to say a great deal of danger accompanied a conviction 
like that. The educational or conversional importance which 
the organisers of these groups attached to Bolshevist cultural 
commodities, was not likely to be shared by everyone in this 
country. Pictures that appeared to one class of society to afford 
natural preparation for a higher state and a transforming knowl- 
edge, would be likely to appear just the reverse to another class. 
And so it has come about. Intellectuals, aesthetes, and the repre- 
sentatives of the workers' cultural and revolutionary interests 
have suffered a common misfortune. In seeking to promote 
the consumption of Russian cultural commodities by English 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 285 

workers and their sympathisers and supporters, they have come 
into active conflict with the picture censor. And now they 
are banded together for one common purpose, to destroy or 
limit the power of this strange phenomenon. 

The combination of forces thus brought about for the 
purpose of making war on censorship, and obtaining a free 
hand in the importation and exhibition of " artistic " and social 
pictures and the reduction or abolition of Customs duties, is a 
very unusual one. It is a strangely variegated legion, and for 
this reason, if for no other, deserves analysis. Broadly speak- 
ing it falls into three divisions answering to those of the three 
present political ones Right, Centre, and Left. 

The Three Organisations formed for the 
Purpose of Exhibiting Moving Pictures 
with a Cinematographic, Social or Revo- 
lutionary Interest. These include 
pictures which are not easily available 
for public exhibition 1 



I I I 

Right. Centre. Left. 

I I I 

1. The Film Society. The Masses Stage and The Federation of 

Est. 1924. Film Guild. Workers' Film 
Object : To afford Immediate Object : To Societies. 
people interested in the bring plays and films of This is a growth of the 
Cinema an opportunity democratic and inter- extreme Left Workers' 
of seeing films which national significance Theatre and Cinema 
were not otherwise within the reach of the activities, 
available to them ; also worker, and all who Object : To bring to- 
to act as a body supple- value the theatre as an gether societies and in- 
mentary and useful to expression of social life, dividuals interested in 
the commercial film The Guild is supported the exhibition and pro- 
world in introducing to by members of the duction of cinemato- 
its study the work of Government and of graph films of value to 
talented newcomers and members of the theatri- the working class, and 
experimenters who cal profession. to stimulate interest in 
might later contribute President: such films among the 
to its progress. A. Fenner Brockway, working class of Great 

M.P. Britain and Ireland. 

1 Author's Note. — This analysis and the following observations do not 

go beyond December, 1929. Since then there may have been various 
changes. 

21 



286 



THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



I 

Right. 

I 



Centre. 



Council: Hon. Treasurer: 

The Honourable Ivor The Rt. Hon. F. O. 

Montagu. [Son of the - Roberts, M.P. 

late Lord Swaythling, Advisory Council: 

head of the banking Kyrle Bellew. 

firm of Samuel Mon- Maurice Browne. 

tagu and Co., London.] Lewis Casson. 

A founder of the Film Sabben Clare. 

Society. The Rt. Hon. J. R. 
Miss Iris Barry. Clynes, M.P. 

Sidney L. Bernstein. Edith Craig. 

Frank Dobson. Archibald De Bear. 

Edmund Dulac. Ashley Dukes. 

E. A. McKnight-Kauffer. Capt. P. P. Eckersley. 

W. C. Mycroft.i Peter Godfrey. 

2. " Close Up." A j. F. Horrabin, M.P. 

monthly journal first The Rt. Hon. George? 
published in 1927. Lansbury, M.P. 

Object : In some re- Moyna MacGill. 

spects similar to that of Miles Malleson. 

The Film Society. Anti- James Maxton, M.P. 

censorship propaganda. Henry Oscar. 

To provide a means Walter Peacock, 

whereby the general Jack Raymond, 

public can be not only Hannen Swaffer. 

put in touch with but Denis Neilson Terry, 

urged to demand artis- Sybil Thorndike. 

tic and intelligent films The Rt. Hon. Sir 
and also to point out to Charles Trevelyan, 

them all films of such a M.P. 

nature produced in any Frank Vernon, 

country. Also to pro- Dr. Egon Wertheimer. 
vide a platform for pro- 
ducers to campaign 
against interference 
with the production and 
exhibition of good films. 
Editor : Kenneth Mac- 
pherson. A principal 
contributor : Oswell 
Blakeston. 2 

i From the official 
statement of The Film 
Society. 

2 From the official 
statement of The 
Masses Stage and Film 
Guild. 



Left. 

I 
Provision Council 
Includes : 
The Hon. Ivor Mon- 
tagu. 

Harry Pollitt. 
Monica Ewer. 
G. P. Wells. 
W. Gallacher. 
K. Macpherson. 
O. Blakeston. 
Henry Dobb. 3 



3 From the official 
statement of The 
Federation of Workers' 
Film Societies. 



An analysis of the Provisional Council of the Left Wing 
F.O.W.F.S. reveals the fact that it contains the links that con- 
nect the groups. I do not know whether the Masses S.F. Guild 
is represented on the Council. But I think I am right in saying 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 287 

that it is affiliated with the F.O.W.F.S. In any case, the re- 
fusal of the County Council to allow the Bolshevist picture, 
" Mother " to be shown to members of the Guild, has brought 
that body definitely into the camp of the anti-censor crusaders. 

The Federation of Workers' Film Societies 

1 

COMPOSITION of provisional council 



I 

Right. 

I 

Hon. Ivor Mon- 
tagu, of the Film 
Society, and 

Brunei and Mon- 
tagu, producers 
and vendors of 
Sov-Kino Pic- 
tures. 

G. P. Wells, of 
the firm of 
Brunei and Mon- 
tagu. 

K. Macpherson, 
" Close Up." 

O. Blakeston, 
" Close Up." 



I 
Eight Centre. 



I 
Centre. 



Monica Ewer Henry Dobb. Re- 

(Daily Herald presents corn- 
critic), promise between 
the Right and 
Left. Was Cine- 
ma Critic of the 
Sunday Worker, 
a weekly class- 
war print, which 
ceased publica- 
tion in order to 
concentrate all 
activities in The 
Daily Worker. 
Dobb's criticisms 
revealed that he 
was strongly in- 
fluenced by 
" Close Up," to 
which journal he 
contributed. He 
placed far more 
emphasis on the 
aesthetic values 
of the moving 
picture than on 
the social ones 
demanded by the 
readers of a rev- 
olutionist news- 
print. Among 
his Right occu- 
pations was that 
of titling and 
editing unusual 
pictures shown 
at the Avenue 
Pavilion Cinema. 



I 
Left. 

I 

Pollitt, the well- 
known militant 
Communist. Con- 
tributor to The 
Daily Worker. 

Gallacher, also 
an extreme Left 
Winger and con- 
tributor to Com- 
munist prints. 



It is not necessary to pursue this analysis further. The charts 
show that all sections of society are represented by the combina- 



288 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tions to fight the censorship. Wide ramifications are suggested 
by the many and varied affiliations and league and group 
organisations promoted by the three groups. The Film Society 
aims to be " useful to the commercial film world. " It was very 
useful to the Avenue Pavilion Cinema, but it should be said that 
although this House of Silent Shadow used to receive services 
from representatives of the Right and Left groups, it has never 
been engaged in the anti-censorship struggle. It has been instru- 
mental in bringing to the notice of the public a large number oi 
" unusual " and highly instructive films, but always according 
to a commercial policy. Its achievement is dealt with in the 
appendices. Further, The Film Society seeks to promote the 
growth of specialized audiences. And it has had a hand in the 
formation of Picture Leagues and Cinema Clubs in France, 
Geneva, Rome, Madrid and so on. The F.O.W.F.S. is affiliat- 
ing with groups all over the country. Finally, the ideas of 
these groups are filtering through the Press either openly or in 
more subtle ways. Some are to be found in The Daily Wor\er, 
and the Red Press generally, others in The Daily Herald, The 
New Leader and Plebs. O. Blakeston is a contributor to " The 
Film Weekly," a " film-fan " journal which deals favourably 
with Bolshevist Films exhibited in this country, and with the 
ideas, views, and activities of Messrs. Eisenstein, Pudovkin and 
Vertov. The activities of The Film Society command the atten- 
tion of the Right Press, and to judge by a recent leader 1 those 
of the Masses F. and S. Guild are likely to do so also. While 
the United Cinema Group keeps well within the limelight of 
sensation, it will not lack publicity. Whether it slaps the 
censor's face, or flaunts the Red Flag picture in the face of 
the flabbergasted critic, it may rest assured that its fierce 
denunciations or daring innovations, will bulk largely in the 
Press. As, for instance, in the matter of propaganda and 
censorship : 

" Moscow's most notorious anti-British propaganda film, 

1 The Evening News, November 15, 1929. 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR • 289 

* Storm Over Asia,' will be shown on Sunday afternoon by 
the Film Society, which is permitted by the London County 
Council to give private exhibitions of these Soviet films, and 
has already shown ' The End of St. Petersburg,' ' Potemkin,' 
1 Mother,' and * Bed and Sofa.' 

" The Tivoli, controlled by the Gaumont-British Pictures 

Corporation, has been loaned to the society for this occa- 

"1 
sion. 

1 Mother,' one of Moscow's numerous banned propaganda 

films, has become the storm centre of a political discussion 

likely to end in a general investigation of the present system 

of film censorship. 

' The disturbance arose over the refusal of the London 
County Council to allow ' Mother ' to be shown to the members 
of the Masses Stage and Screen Guild, although they had allowed 
the film to be shown, about eighteen months previously, to the 
members of the Film Society. 

' This society is said to be interested only in the ' cultural " 
aspects of Soviet films, whereas the guild is understood to be 
interested in bringing Soviet conditions, as illustrated in films r 
directly under the notice of working classes in Britain. 

' The guild has three members of the Government among 
its patrons, and is therefore in a position to exert considerable 
political influence on censorship, which the Film Society is also 
anxious to reform in favour of the more general exhibition of 
Moscow films. 

" A third party in the discussion is the London Workers'" 
Film Society, to which the L.C.C., apparently, has given per- 
mission to hold private exhibitions of banned Soviet films. " 
. . . " The London Workers' Film Society, for example, is 
affiliated with the Federation of Workers' Film Societies, the 
organiser of which in this country is the Hon. Ivor Montagu, 
son of the late Lord Swaythling. Mr. Montagu is also the 
founder and principal agent of the Film Society." . . . 

1 The Daily Express, February 2, 1930. 



290 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

' The importance of ' Mother ' to the ' workers ' film societies 
is the fact that it illustrates a revolt of factory workers." 1 

A rather curious circumstance is associated with the exhi- 
bition of the " Soviet films." According to the extracts 
quoted, The Film Society is permitted to show these films, but 
the Masses T. and F. Guild and the F.O.W.F.S. are not. " The 
Censors have allowed the film (" New Babylon ") to be shown 
to The Film Society, but the Workers' Film Society is refused 
permission to screen it." 2 The result is that the latter has a 
grievance against The Film Society with which it is associated in 
the fight against censorship. " Why," it asks, " is The Film 
Society permitted to exhibit these films at one of the largest 
West End Cinemas, and workers' societies are not? " It is 
not hard to say why. The Film Society and " Close Up " 
clique have always done their best to convey the impression that 
they are obsessed far more with technique than with social con- 
tent. Indeed it is doubtful whether the leaders and members 
of these two groups have any knowledge of sociology and the 
transformation which present-day society is undergoing. Their 
game is quite plainly to promote the idea that the moving 
picture must be detached from actuality and infuse it with a 
new aesthetic having nothing whatever to do with actual fact 
or a life-centred society. This is the game that has been played 
too long by the Art of the Theatre folk. With the Masses T. 
and F. Guild and the F.O.W.F.S. it is different. They are 
obsessed with social and with revolutionary content. They seek 
to enable the Cinema to fulfil its true function, by detaching 
it from the two extremes of commercial idiocy and aesthetic 
imbecilism, and uniting it with a life-centred subject. It is easy 
to gather from this why The Film Society receives preferential 
treatment. While it poses as a harmless school of technique, 
neither the censor nor the London County Council are likely 
to identify it with the plot (real or alleged) to make the Cinema 

i The Daily Express, February 2, 1930. 
2 The Daily Worker, January 9, 1930. 



THE CASTLE IN THE AIR 291 

safe for Bolshevism. Moreover, the fact that its founder and 
leading " spirit " is an aristocrat and the son of a millionaire 
banker and the members of the Society are drawn from the 
intelligentsia and most wealthy social class, is no doubt 
responsible for non-interference. The two other groups are in 
a different boat. They are for the Workers. Nowadays, 
thanks to Revolutionary Russia, the word Workers is calculated 
to give any ordinary censor a fit. By a process of reasoning 
peculiar to his class he has no difficulty in identifying the pro- 
posals and activities of sympathisers with the cause of the libera- 
tion of the Workers, with the most horrible conspiracy against 
making the world fit for asses like himself and all who agree 
with him, that has ever been known. Hence no " bolshy 
films " for them. 

As to the nature and value of censorship. Its cause and 
cure. The wisdom or folly of the present desperate struggle 
against it. What more can I say or suggest than I have already 
said or suggested in these pages. The argument that I have put 
forward that the Cinema has a good purpose, and the means I 
have taken to illustrate it by showing that human beings are 
apt to read their own wishes into the material objects of the 
picture, means that the censor is powerless to control the mind 
of the audience or to suppress its reading of the function of the 
Cinema, just as he is powerless to prevent the unintentional 
getting into a picture and demonstrating new facts scientific and 
other, which are being discussed in secret outside the Cinema. 
What I have suggested is that spiritually, subconsciously, in- 
stinctively, and scientifically speaking, the censor does not exist. 
What the action of such bodies as the groups I have described 
suggests is that he exists physically and is a public nuisance. 
To them, he represents rigid supervision, interference, opinion, 
doctrine, that proceeds from the vast storehouse of narrow pre- 
judice and fossilised fanaticism. And because he represents 
this he must be made to walk the plank. The Crusaders uphold 
four practical complaints : 



292 



THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



1. The censoring of pictures of proved artistic merit. 

French, Russian and German. 

2. The censoring of pictures of essential social value. 

Russian. 

3. The censoring of pictures of essential scientific value. 

Various countries. 

4. The very heavy customs duties that prohibit the importa- 

tion of good (uncommercial) pictures. 
How simple they look, yet what a multitude of problems 
they involve. 




1924. Art of the Cinema. Silhouette or Paper- 
cut film. Another scene from Cinderella. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE RIDDLE: 

THE ENGLISH WING OF HOLLYWOOD, AND THE 
CONJURING TRICK 

A. Quota 

Not long ago, in 1930, there was a recurrence of excitement in 
the English Press over the loss of Cinema players. American 
Film Kings were again at work draining our human resources 
by buying up precious human material and transporting it to 
the Hollywood mills. Strange to say, when some of the sup- 
posed victims were invited to express an opinion on this busi- 
ness, they exclaimed joyfully, " We like it." They had no 
objection at all to fall into the toils of the American Octopus. 
They maintained that Elstree had nothing to offer them. Jobs 
were hard to get. Staffs were simply befuddled men and 
women, directors did not know their business and no one was 
at hand to teach them a necessary thing or two. And think of 
it! Handsome heroes were left sunning their matchless bodies 
in idleness for months at a stretch, while Britain's Beauty Queens 
and Heroines, who had satisfied all the requirements of Prize 
Contests, were subject to shameful neglect. No proper studio 
lighting, no adequate make-up facilities, ill-fitting dresses, in- 
competent photography that made their faces a libel on heaven ! 
Gould anything be worse ! In short, they painted the English 
annexe to Hollywood as a kind of Dantean Inferno, and sug- 
gested that a glass of sparkling Hollywood hock was the nearest 
way out of it. Among the epistles with which the disillusioned 
brightened the dull columns of the daily prints was one that 

293 



294 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

ran : " There is no British Film Industry. There is one big 
company, and there are seven films in production. In Holly- 
wood seventy films are being made." 1 Oh, that one understood 
the language of numbers and could say what that magical seven 
portends. And seventy? Was not seventy years' captivity fore- 
told? 2 

After reading this stimulating stuff, I turned to the com- 
paratively dismal facts and figures recorded by a scenario writer 
at Elstree (or is it Shepherd's Bush? or elsewhere in the British 
Isles? I forget), a man who is supposed to be in the know, 
and one of those " villains " marked down for disapproval by 
the disgruntled and persons who are out for the blood of the 
British Cinema Industry. According to this scribe (writing at 
the beginning of 1929) : " There are in this country about 24 
production companies more or less actively engaged in making 
pictures. In addition, one or two foreign films are making one 
or more films to fulfil their quota obligations, and a few British 
firms are dormant. About a dozen of the active firms came 
into being as a direct result of the Government's Cinematograph 
Films Act, which called for an increased number of home-pro- 
duced pictures, and several of them have built new studios. Of 
the others, four — British Instructional, British International, 
Gainsborough and Gaumont — were not appreciably affected by 
the legislation, because they were already committed fairly 
heavily to production, though British International, with a big 
record last year of 22 completed pictures, has shot far ahead of 
any other country." ..." The British film revival has been 
remarkable." . . . " America produces between 800 and 
900 films every year and Germany between 300 and 400. . . . 
The number produced here is well short of 100." . . . "In 
1928 no fewer than 78 full-length pictures were trade shown." 3 
In a letter reproving a sister " film critic " the same writer 
remarks : "If your film critic has seen two really good British 

1 See The Evening Standard, March 4, 1930. 

2 See " Jeremiah," 25, 12. 

3 L'Estrange Fawcett, in " The Times Film Number," March 19, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 295 

films in eighteen months she has not done so badly ... if 
we are only turning out one first-class picture a year we are 
doing as well as anyone else." 1 He argues in this fashion — 
because America and Germany between them turn out 1,100 
full-length pictures a year, and because he saw only 10 or 12 
American and German films of real merit in 1928, and as Eng- 
land produced only 70 pictures in that period, it follows, etc. 

From these facts and figures, and the emphasis on the good 
tidings that England is producing at least one good picture a 
year, we may gather that the British Cinema Industry is in 
course of healthy and hopeful revival, rebirth, resurrection, re- 
organisation, reconstruction, or whatever meaning we like to 
give to present incipient activities. But is it really breaking 
away from Hollywood? Throwing off the dreadful incubus 
of American domination? That is the question. Except for 
pre-war strivings and stirrings, and post-1926 strivings and 
stirrings, and the production of important post-war patriotic and 
Imperial documentary and instructional pictures — the only 
pictures opposed to the flood of American ones — the British 
Cinema Industry has never shown the slightest disposition to 
separate from Hollywood, and to stand upright on its own 
legs. 

In 1906 the American picture companies were already at 
work pooling brains and money for the invasion of the world's 
picture markets. " In 1908 British exhibitors built better 
cinemas, but they had no films. So they imported American 
ones. The Americans were producing a good picture which 
has never been beaten. But the quality of the English pictures 
has gradually been improved." 2 

There was a brief period of success during which the Eng- 
lish and French pictures made a bid for the world's markets. 
" In 1914 there were 314 British companies with a capital of 
^2,449,300. By 1916 the figures were 208: > £899,926." 3 That 

1 L'Estrange Fawcett, Letter to The Observer, January 27, 1929. 

2 See " The Cinema, 1917." A Report of Investigation into Conditions. 

3 " The Cinema, 1917." 



296 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

is, by 191 6 the guillotine had fallen. " 90 p.c. of the films being 
now (1916) shown in the British picture houses are American, 
and the British market is only a negligible fraction of the market 
of the American producer both at home and throughout the 
whole world." 1 " In 1916 one firm paid £36,800 in ten months 
for Customs duties on films coming into this country." 2 In 
view of the American invasion it is important to note the number 
of English consumers. " In the British Isles there are (1916) 
approximately 4,500 cinemas. The seating capacity varies from 
100 to three or four thousand, according to the district. Based 
on carefully-tabulated returns, the average attendance per day, 
per cinematograph theatre throughout the country may very con- 
servatively be placed at 750. The total number of patrons per 
day on this basis is 3,375,000, which gives a gross attendance 
for the year, for week-days only, of 1,056,375,000. The number 
of theatres open on Sundays is relatively small and has steadily 
decreased. The large majority of such houses are to be found 
in the London area, and assuming a total of 500 theatres, with 
750 patrons each Sunday, we have an additional 375,000 patrons 
per Sunday, or 19,500,000 per year. The gross total of visitors 
during the year thus becomes 1,075,870,000. The total amount 
earned by the cinemas in a year is ^20,000,000. The number 
of persons engaged in the manufacture, exhibition and distribu- 
tion of films in the British Isles may be estimated at from 80,000 
to 100,000. About 5,000 new " subjects " are issued each year, 
and some 70,000,000 feet of film are running through the pro- 
jectors each week." 3 As to company promoting and capitalisa- 
tion. The figures are, " from 1908 to 1916 (incomplete), Com- 
panies, 2,285; Capital, ^13,239,895. " 4 There were a large 
number of liquidations. " During 1915 and 1916 there were 114 
liquidations." 5 " The B.F.I, has rested on an investment policy 
from the beginning." 6 

These facts and figures are instructive as revealing the 
nature and value of the old B.C.I, structure — the structure that 



12 3 4 5 6 



" The Cinema, 1917. 



THE RIDDLE 297 

existed till 1926. " The late War, and the conditions arising 
therefrom, including particularly, conditions relating to the 
marketing and exhibition of motion pictures within the Empire 
and elsewhere throughout the world have contributed to the 
prostitution of the British Cinema production industry/' 1 One 
does not need to be a mathematician to calculate how much 
profit the American Film Kings derived from the yearly con- 
sumption of their 90 p.c. of commodities by the 1,075,870,000 
English cinema-goers. This rate of consumption continued for 
ten years. 

Since 1926, amid mingled cries of joy and derision, the 
outlines of a new Industrial structure have arisen. Let us see 
how they differ from the main lines of the old American-centred 
one. The chief cause that produced the old one was invest- 
ment. As soon as business men saw there was money in the 
moving picture they set to work to draw the English investing 
public into the net. Company promoters waxed fat. The new 
one may be said to have had a similar origin but a new incentive 
to investment was added. This incentive was the curious piece 
of legislation known as the Quota Act, which required that 
5 p.c. of pictures shown in this country should be English. 
Later there came another and perhaps more powerful incentive 
in the form of the talking picture, or " Talkie " for short. The 
Quota Act, now called Quota, was not passed intentionally to 
promote investment purposes, to enable bogus producing com- 
panies and their unscrupulous directors to swindle the public, 
and other picture producers to make big Quota fortunes. Like 
the German Kontingent Law, the French Herriot measure, the 
imitations that appeared in various European countries, all made 
to compel the exhibition of a yearly percentage (varying in 
different countries from 7^ to 50 p.c. of national pictures, it 
was intended to be a destructive and constructive weapon. The 
cause that produced it was the increasing menace of American 
domination. It was originally a monopoly breaker framed to 

1 The Referee, May 8, 1927. 



298 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

form a barrier against Hollywood's money-grabbing legions and 
a means to rehabilitate English pictures. If, after being passed, 
it came to assist evil investment tendencies by offering itself for 
use to promote Quota companies, and as a bait by such com- 
panies to catch silly investors who were led to lose fortunes, 
that was because it was not properly made. It was as full of 
loop holes as a rabbit warren. 

By all accounts Quota was needed to save the picture pro- 
duction business in this country from being buried outright. 
" The outstanding feature of 1926 was the discovery by the 
Board of Trade that the British film industry was in a dying 
condition. A suggestion was made that on and after a certain 
date to be fixed each picture theatre should present a quota 
of British pictures, but the proprietors cast a heavy vote against 
this proposal. Later, when it was urged that the booking of 
pictures in blocks without seeing them, or even before they were 
made in America, was the cause of the then impending decease 
of the British industry, an overwhelming majority voted in 
favour of legislation to end this system." 1 And in due course 
there was legislation. But not to everyone's satisfaction, simply 
because no Act in practice ever does give complete satisfaction. 
The chief objection to this one was that the Bill was not as 
originally contemplated, one capable of transforming the Cinema 
Industry. That it served to establish by law a power which 
might be exercised in an arbitrary and wrong manner, accom- 
panied by the most mischievous results. In other words, it was 
capable of assisting the Americans, and English producers and 
renters seeking to take advantage of the Cinema Trade and 
Industry and of the public, instead of hindering them. 

Within a limited space it is impossible to consider all sides 
of the very complicated subject of the Cinematograph Films Bill 
and to describe the Quota system contained in the Bill; and I 
shall not attempt it. All I shall do is to state briefly its pur- 
pose and offer some evidence of pro and anti attitudes, and then 

1 W. G. Faulkner, " The Daily Mail Year Book," 1927. 



THE RIDDLE 299 

pass on to the effect of the Act in action. " The purpose is, briefly, 
to provide market for the product of British makers of films by 
compelling exhibitors and renters to buy an increasing quota of 
this product." 1 " The purpose of the Bill is, of course, to 
encourage the production of British pictures and their more 
extensive exhibition throughout the Empire and elsewhere 
throughout the world." 2 

For: 

" The opponents of the Films Bill, such as Lord Beaver- 
brook (who, by the by, has cinema interests) uniformly mis- 
state the case. The block system at present in vogue secures 
the domination of the English picture house by the American 
film. And many of the American films are as contemptible 
artistically as they are dangerous from the point of view of alien 
propaganda. If the minimum quota of English films were 
established we might be in danger of getting some bad Eng- 
lish films, but that is better than our present certainty of getting 
some bad American films. Moreover, the plan has been tried 
with success in Germany, a country we do not disdain to imitate 
when it does well. We do not think that assurance of a good 
home market is likely to produce a flood of bad English films, 
it will merely stimulate production. And we think that our 
film producers have as good brains as the producers of Germany 
and America. We confess that we do not love the cinema, but 
millions of English people do, and it is bad to have them fed 
continually on the American idea." 3 

" We welcome the Cinematograph Films Bill because it 
seeks to achieve an excellent object. American capital has a 
stranglehold on the cinematograph industry in this country. If 
there were in the American people or the American climate 
some peculiar virtue which enabled them to produce better or 
more desirable films than this country can hope to do, or to 

1 The Times, April 6, 1927. 

2 William Marston Seabury, in The Referee, May 8, 1927. 

3 G. K.'s Weekly, March 26, 1927. 



300 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

produce equally good films at a substantially lower cost, the 
Bill might be assailable on economic grounds. 

" In fact, the Hollywood film is not American. It is con- 
trolled, inspired and saturated with what is politely called the 
international complex. Still less is it British or in the remotest 
degree coloured by or concerned with what is best, or even 
with what is decently normal, in English life." 1 

Against : 

M.P.'s Hymn of Hate. "Mr. Philip Snowden (Labour): 
* The Bill shows that the President of the Board of Trade is 
simply a tool of the Federation of British Industries.' 

" Sir Frank Meyer (a Conservative) : * It is an illegitimate 
interference with business.' 

" Major Crawfurd (a Liberal) : ' You might as well try to 
force a member of a university crew to catch English measles 
instead of German measles.' 

"Mr. Arthur Greenwood (an ex-Labour Minister): 'The 
wildest farrago of administrative nonsense ever put before the 
House.' 

" One of the ablest defenders of the measure was Colonel 
Moore-Brabazon. He considers that there has been too much 
of the " bang-the-drum-and-walk-up " showman business about 
films in the past, and that the quota will give a chance to British 
genius." 2 

Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, President of the Board of Trade, 
•denying Mr. Philip Snowden's charge, said, " There is no truth 
whatever in that allegation. The Bill is founded on a recom- 
mendation of the Imperial Conference." 3 

" Thus the Bill seeks to eliminate the symptom of blind 
booking, while it stimulates, protects, and grants specific 
immunity to the far more important and dangerous symptom, 
the * first run ' theatre. The disease itself — consisting in the 

1 The Evening News, March 12, 1927. 

2 The Daily News, March 23, 1927. 

3 The Daily Herald, March 23, 1927. 




c/5 I r\ 

*-> o G 



litis § 

^ M^ g «« a . 
C C -M <u V) 

CJ in r; ai 



top 






i> >-< ° ^> 
^5 3 as S S g 



5 On O ° - 



o 



o 

Oh ^ 






g.s 



<U Cfl l-i ^ -£ \s ^ 

C '2 2 aj in <D O 
o c u! • -i a jz _, 
t: .22 <u Q -£ +- .5 



c'cti! d w iu o 

<" r 

i-O a a, SS 2 

.: o o o g _ -q 






w 



x> c 



9 &-S 

"3 



<" t- " rt S — 

O S£ "US 

: pE m » ^ 



S 5.3 
c 2 « -!•§/ 

£ W *- £ v M 
g c .22 2f -2 -a 

- 2 ^ <° 

<1r ^ c w of h £ 

M os^ ^g § 

.S &*^"2 § 8 

c c p c ° j: 

o' g C C >• JU >% 

co O C cs XI T3 c 

c c 2 ^ ^ 

« o s t! « 



THE RIDDLE 301 

exclusive exhibition contract system — flourishes unchecked and 
unabated. It is perhaps needless to add that the monopoly will 
continue to flourish with slight and but quite incidental annoy- 
ance, but at no real disadvantage from the Bill." 1 
The principal effects of the Act in practice are : 

1. A start at building a new English Cinema Industry. 

2. Booming the Industry on alleged Quota advantages in 

order to obtain capital from the investing public to 
float companies. 

3. A new war against America. 

4. English Civil War. Violent attacks on the Quota met 

by equally violent methods of defence. 
1. Building of the new English Cinema Industry. Two 
stages have marked the erection of the new structure — A. Quota 
stage, or pre-Talkie, and B. the Talkie stage. 

a. 1. Concept. An English economic machine, the 
activities of which are intended to follow those of the economic 
activities of Hollywood in the production, distribution, exchange 
and consumption of Cinema goods. But it must make " a 
British picture." British defined. " A British film must be 
made (that is promoted) by British subjects." 2 

b. Policy. Investment in home-made pictures for Eng- 
land. Opening of a wide foreign market. 

c. Motive. To promote English Cinema Trade and 
Industry so as to remove the worst features of American com- 
petition. 

d. Organisation : 

1. Plan. An English Hollywood. " As for the natural 
conditions which aid the production of films only a fool would 
suggest that the British film studio with all Europe at its back 
door, as it were, is not better situated than Los Angeles, which 
is six thousand miles away from anywhere that matters." 3 

1 William Marston Seabury, in The Referee, May 8, 1927. 

2 The Evening News, March 12, 1927. 

3 Ibid. 

22 



302 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

2. Site. The environments of London. Elstree, Bushey, 
Walthamstow, Islington, Beaconsfield, Welwyn, Cricklewood, 
Wembley, Shepherd's Bush, Isleworth, Hounslow, Teddington 
and elsewhere. In these districts studios have been erected. 
The site though it offers big business advantages over Hollywood 
since it is part of a great commercial city, has not the latter's 
natural advantages. Its geography, atmosphere and light are 
unfavourable, and it lacks facilities for the intensive cultivation of 
institutions, production and other activities. 

3. Foundations. Financial organisation. Laid by capitalists 
and investors of all kinds. It offers a scope for gambling and 
speculating with public money. To begin with, had a founda- 
tion of millions invested in the Cinema. 

" In Parliament yesterday Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister, President 
of the Board of Trade, stated at question time that estimates 
made by various sections of the cinema trade gave the capital 
invested in the exhibition side of the industry as from 
^30,000,000 to ^50,000,000. 

" He hesitated to give any reliable estimate of the amount 
invested in production, but he thought that at present it did not 
exceed ^4,000,000. "* 

4. Builders. Leading presidents and managing directors 
with tested organising and directional abilities who could be 
trusted to promote the best business interests of the new industry. 
If it cannot be said that they are like the German Film Kings 
of the best post-war period of German production who were 
obsessed with an " ennoblement " ideal under pressure of which 
they pledged themselves to put " soul " into commercial pictures; 
it may be said that they are seriously moved by the idea of 
establishing English machinery that shall make the most of the 
protection afforded by the Quota. They include Sir Gordon 
Craig, H. Bruce Woolfe, "managing director of British Instruc- 
tional Films," 2 C. M. Woolf " managing ^i5,ooo,ooo," 3 Michael 

1 The Daily News, March 23, 1927. 

2 Film Weekly, December 30, 1929. 
s Film Weekly, December 2, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE ; 303 

Balcon, 1 A. E. Bundy, " an extremely able financier," 2 and John 
Maxwell. 

5. Materials. Human. Do not differ from the Holly- 
wood varieties save that they are mainly home product. 
Mixture of stars and starvelings. Assortment of technical 
staffs. 

6. Content. Three elements. 1. Hollywood; 2. Instruc- 
tional and sociological, and 3. patriotic and national propaganda. 
1. " Britain at the moment is undoubtedly copying; you can see 
it in every British production. Tricks which are antiquated 
both in American and German productions are being used, and 
not always to the best advantage. Ten years ago, de Mille 
set the fashion for cabaret scenes, and during the past year I 
should think more than 60 p.c. of British productions have in- 
cluded at least one cabaret scene in each production, whether 
it is wanted or not." 3 But copying does not end with cabaret 
scenes. The War, Sex and Crime have all been exploited and 
sold on a scale that even America might envy or consider 
sickening. Of course, these appeals to the popular mind have 
had their effect on the box office. This traffic in sensationalism 
has unintentionally put scientific values on the screen similar to 
those associated with the American sensational pictures. For 
instance, demonstrations of the theory held by sexologists that 
there are sexual doubles; criminal analyses. The new criminal 
and his environment, and his scientific equipment analysed by 
experts like Edgar Wallace. Warology exhibition of the new 
machinery of warfare. Sociologically speaking the new pictures 
reveal a lack of vision and knowledge. They have nothing to 
compare with the Westerns which so successfully put the Wild 
and changing West on the screen. The attempt to put Eng- 
land on the screen has been, so far, mildly amusing. The 
American version of Hardy's " Under the Greenwood Tree," 
the production of other pictures, such as " Red Roses," served 

i Film Weekly, December 9, 1929. 

2 Film Weekly, December 16, 1929. 

3 Victor Sheridan, in The Observer, January 27, 1929. 



3o 4 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to remind us that the English picture industry cannot do without 
foreigners and foreign elements no matter how much it tries. 1 
The attempt to put Ireland on the screen is no better. " The 
Informer" is historically a muddle; Sean O'Casey's "Juno 
and the Paycock " is revolution with the revolution left out. 
Still, if " Juno and the Paycock " failed to satisfy sociologically, 
it came as a boon and a blessing to one eminent Cinema critic, 
who found it compounded of "the whimsical sentiment of 
Barrie, the unique grandeur of Shakespeare's tragedy, the 
lambent glory of Moliere blended with cinematographic form." 2 
The cinema-goer should certainly not quarrel with that mixture 
for 1/4 tax included. Mr. H. G. Wells' two " shorts" " Blue- 
bottles " and " Daydreams " have interesting sociological possi- 
bilities. The best sociological results have been attained by the 
British Instructional Films especially in pictures dealing 
with occupations in this country, with different parts of the 
Empire, such as India in " Shiraz " and " The Throw of the 
Dice," that shed a light on India of the wealthy class and 
its environment, and with the " Secrets of Nature." The latter 
series are extremely valuable in revealing natural processes of 
birth, growth, development and habital adaptations of vegetable, 
insect and other forms of life. " What extraordinary comedy 
and drama and pathos of dire tragedy are in the lives of the 
smallest things that leap or creep." 3 The great French naturalist 
proved it. It is not out of place to mention the sociological 
importance of the news reel such as, for instance, The First 
National Pathe Gazette, with its vivid interpretations of nature, 
and man and his occupations and environment in the past, 
present and possible. Patriotic pictures have had a fairly long 
career. The attempt to make a record of the War, naval and 
military has resulted in such noteworthy pictures as " Arma- 
geddon," " Mons," " Ypres," " Zeebrugge," " The Battles of 
Coronel and Falklands," and other documentary pictures, some 

1 See Manchester Guardian, November 2, 1929. 

2 G. A. Atkinson, Sunday Express, January 5, 1930. 
8 G. A. Atkinson, Sunday Express, January 26, 1930. 




<U 


CJ 


<U 


CO 


CO 




c 




CO 


c 

c 





CU 

_3 






CO 




X 


CO 






CJ 




CO 






<d 


2 


+j 


<u 


_ 




-z 


CJ 


c 

0) 




CJ 




0) 


+"■ 


s 

X 

« 


o 


* 5b 




ti 




CO 

CU 


Cj 




co 


Eh 




x 




"d 


C 
ft 


Eh 


o 

CO 




co 


CO 

3 


co 




CU 

X 


Jh 

CJ 


43 


CO 

C 
co 

.£ 


"3 


0) 


"3 


o 




C 


X 


Cft 


CO 

x 


CO 
CO 


g g 


_o 


o 




CO 

<U 

C 

X 

3 
O 


<u 

X 

O 
ft 


cO 

o 

CJ 
CO 


u 

X' 
X 

CJ 


q 


> 

X 


« 


<U 
T3 


CJ 


X 


<i) 


T3 



o 


X 


O 


o 




jj 






















"^ 


4^ 


• — 


- 


CO 


bo 


cs 


c 


<4> 


XI 


l_H^ 


c 


-J 


CJ 


,VJ 






c_ 




£ 


3 


u 


£ 


u 

X 


-^ 


t> 


<4i 


■3 


o 


.(_> 




c 

CO 


0*73 




CO 


h 


-3 


8 


CO 

o 


15 


CU 
CJ 




c_ 


a 




X 


cO 




~. 


J 


x 


u 


d 
c 


C 

t+H 


<*> 


'S 


CO 

cO 

T3 


C 

CO 


o 


2-* 


X 


CU 

1- 

3 


c 

S- 

ft 


c 

C3 

c 




CO 

X 
Eh 


C 

C 
cO 


U 

x 

£ 

CO 


o 

Cb 

X 



c 






CO 


CO 


o 


4h 

o 




£ 

o 


CO 

X 


<u 

> 


3 


X 


ft'V 


■M 




Ih 


'5 


c 




C3 

O 


73 


J 







_2 


cu 

X 


X 


w 


> 


^w 


CO 


* J 


X 




£ 




X 


c 




X 


cj 








CU 


CU 


X 


bc-o 


M 


x 


> 





_C 


CJ 


►—i 


4-1 


•C 


c 


lH 


J2 


^f 


V 


CO 


co 


cO 


X 


^ 




c 




OJ 




CO 

N 


c 

u 


CO 

p 


o 


X 


CJ 
Ih 

ft 


c> 


C3 
Ih 


■+■< 


C 


CU 


M 


15 


C 


bt 


o 


£ 




Cfi^ 


C 


CU 


CU 



THE RIDDLE 305 

of which in the making have had the active co-operation of 
the naval and military authorities. 

7. Method. Mainly guesswork. There is no science of 
technique in picture production in this country. One writer 
has attempted to indicate the present condition of picture pro- 
duction by comparing it with the condition of Kinetics at the 
end of last century when Kinetics was simply guesswork. 
Mendel the biologist came and founded the science of Kinetics, 
which has since been applied to the improvement of live stock 
and plants that we eat. To-day the science of Kinetics is only 
in its infancy. The technique of picture-making, so far as 
English and American Production Companies are concerned, is 
where Kinetics was at the end of the last century. But so far 
as the Bolshevist producers, Kuleshov, Vertov, Eisenstein and 
Pudovkin are concerned it is where Kinetics is to-day; it rests 
on a scientific foundation. 1 

e. Consumption. The position taken by the Cinema (as 
a place of exhibition) during the preliminary stage of erecting 
the new industrial structure fairly voices the commercial and 
speculative attitude of the Builders. It may be that for the 
first time in the history of the English picture industry the big 
Production and Distributing Companies in this country came 
to realise the extreme importance of exhibition, or the establish- 
ment of multiple shops in which they could sell their own pro- 
duce direct to the consumer. But whether or no it was the first 
time, they proceeded to follow the example of, and even to 
collaborate with the Americans in buying and building cinemas, 
in acquiring chains of existing cinemas, as shopkeepers acquire 
multiple shops, for profit. What the Americans did in this 
respect is related in the section on Hollywood which suggests 
what the English have done. Everything was done for profit, 
that is to satisfy the largest paying appetite. This cinema 
grabbing is an essential part of the game of monopolizing the 

1 See Ivor Montagu, Introduction to " Pudovkin on Technique." 



306 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

whole cinema business, and is in itself a vast gamble by business 
men. It has elements of fraud for some cinemas are so con- 
structed that two thirds of the audience are cheated of from 50 
to 75 p.c. of the entertainment for which they have paid full 
price. It is as though a customer went to a butcher and having 
paid him the price of a full flesh joint received only the bones. 
That this cinema cornering for the purpose of cornering 
audiences is a gamble must be apparent to the men who engage in 
it, for they must know that the construction of the super-cinema, 
and the super-super-cinema at a cost varying from ^250,000 to 
^1,000,000 (the estimated cost of the latest projected mammoth 
cinema for London), is influenced by passing conditions set up 
by mechanical discovery and invention. It is pretty plain to the 
spectator who pays 5/- for a seat, as it must be to cinema owners, 
that an auditorium whose vast size is determined by the small 
screen, is seriously affected by the use of the giant screen. Any- 
one who occupies a seat in row A of the stalls (that is, the row 
farthest from the curtain line on the ground floor), at the Regal 
Cinema, one of London's most sumptuous picture palaces, will 
notice that the line of the floor of the balcony which projects 
over several rows of stalls cuts off the top of the big screen and 
with it the upper part of a big spectacular scene and also the 
heads of figures that are enlarged to the full size of the screen. 
Moreover, it is impossible to see over the head of the person 
in front. 

This form of monopoly is marked by three activities. 1. 
Buying up Cinemas. 2. Adapting existing theatres to cinema 
requirements. 3. Building cinemas. 

1. There is abundant evidence of the mad scramble by 
big Distributing Companies for cinemas. But that relating to 
the amazing activities of the Gaumont-British Company may 
be taken as a fair sample of the whole. Amalgamations and 
deals with producing, renting concerns, bankers. 

" Details will be published within a few days of changes 
within the Gaumont-British Pictures Corporation, the gigantic 



THE RIDDLE 307 

British film organisation with a capital of ^17,000,000, and con- 
trolling more than 300 theatres." 1 

The producing and renting concerns the Gaumont Co., 
W. and F. Film Service and Ideal Films are owned by the 
Corporation. " 2 

" The rise of the Gaumont British undertaking is one of 
the business romances of the last two years. By acquiring the 
Ashfield-Beaverbrook interests on top of the recently acquired 
General Theatres chain, Gaumont British achieves a dominant 
position that is unparalleled in any other country, for even in 
the United States supremacy is divided between three great 
groups, whereas in this country it is Gaumont British first, and 
all the rest nowhere." 3 

" The great new British film combine, the Gaumont- 
British Film Corporation, with a capital of ^2,500,000, backed 
by Messrs. Ostrer Bros., bankers, of Moorgate Street, E.C., has 
completed negotiations for the amalgamation of four companies 
concerned in film production and distribution and the control of 
22 cinemas in London and the provinces." 4 

" Another authority informed me that Messrs. Ostrer 
Brothers, a London firm of merchant bankers, recently bought 
for about ^700,000 fifteen theatres of the Biocolour circuit, which 
includes cinemas in all parts of the country, four being at 
Holloway Road, Peckham, Hoxton and Dalston." 5 

" Several correspondents who hold Provincial Cinemato- 
graph Theatres Ordinary shares have written to inquire if 
they should accept the offer made by Gaumont British Picture 
Corporation of £1 15s. per share. 

" My advice is to accept this offer, for the new company, 
now becoming part of a much larger concern, ceases to be a 
separate entity, and need not necessarily be run with a view to 

1 Daily Chronicle, July 30, 1929. 

2 Evening Standard, September 15, 1928. 

3 Daily Herald, January 3, 1929. 

4 Daily Mail, April 5, 1927. 

5 London Newspaper. 



308 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

earning the maximum amount of profit for its individual share- 
holders." 1 

" Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, Ltd., conducts the 
largest entertainment enterprise in the British Isles, owning or 
controlling no theatres. 35,000,000 people attended the 
theatres of the P.C.T. during the past year (1927)." 2 " The 
Company's chain of theatres now extends from Hull to Belfast 
and from Aberdeen to the Channel Islands. . . . They 
are also caterers owning hotels and restaurants." 3 

2. Architecture. Along with the wholesale buying of 
chains of cinemas has gone the conversion of existing theatres 
and music halls to cinema use. One after the other compara- 
tively old-established " houses " like the London Opera House, 
the Pavilion, and the Palladium have been turned into picture 
palaces quite regardless of their unfitness for this purpose. It 
is true that the directors of these palaces are of the opinion that 
they are suitable for " pictures." Mr. Charles Cochran says, 
" the Pavilion is perfect for films by reason of its perfect sight 
line and projection." 4 The London Pavilion, like all theatres, 
has a correct sight line. But in order that the auditorium should 
have only this sight line, it would be necessary to do away 
with a very large number of seats. Mr. Cochran implies as much 
when he admits that he must close the side seats of the balcony. 
The fact is that most, if not all, of the old-established London 
theatres are pre-historic in construction. Their construction was 
influenced by the use for which they were originally intended, 
and they have retained their original shape while entertainment 
has undergone a gradual change. The disastrous effect of 
putting new entertainment in old theatres was fully apparent 
when the Art of the Theatre took the stage. In particular, when- 
ever Diaghelev's Russian Ballet was performing in one of the 

1 Daily Herald, January 3, 1929. 

2 Cinema Finance Floating Company's Advertisement, Evening 
Standard, October 11, 1927. 

3 The Daily Express, April 27, 1927. 

4 Evening News, April 11, 1929. 




1928. Architecture and Decoration. The Regal Cinema London. An 
example of the atmospheric interior. Italian with a suggestion of the Roman 
military freebooters period in the Roman arms over the stage opening. It is 
designed to provide comfort, cheapness and the maximum seating capacity, and 
to meet the ordinary requirements of eye and ear. The figures according to A. L. 
Carter, the Press representative, are : Cost £200,000 ; Seating capacity, 2,100 ; 
Size of screen 28 ft. 3 ins. by 24 ft. 3 ins ; width of auditorium, 50 ft. extending to 
58 ft. ; depth of auditorium 1 10 ft. from stage to rear wall ; projection throw 120 
ft. ; proscenium opening 48 ft. wide. Running cost per week approximately 
£2,000 Photo by courtesy of the Regal Cinema. 



THE RIDDLE 309 

archaic West End theatres. Seen from the gallery of the Coliseum 
the dancers were like flies. Looking down from the amphi- 
theatre it was almost impossible to recognise the fore-shortened 
figures of the dancers. I never had a seat in a London theatre 
that did not cause me to lose from 25 p.c. to 75 p.c. of the value 
of the composition of the stage picture. A long and 
careful study of the auditoriums of London theatres and 
of sight lines led me to the conclusion that there is 
not a theatre with a correct sight line from all points. 
There are some that contain seats that afford a full and 
uninterrupted view of the stage, but the angles of vision are all 
wrong. " Errors in sight lines are one of the commonest mis- 
takes in theatre construction." 1 I found that in most of the 
theatres there are galleries in which at least 25 p.c. of the seats 
are useless. . . . Another 25 p.c. are exceedingly incon- 
venient; and for two reasons, first because, while it is fairly easy 
for me looking straight at the stage to find a view-point between 
the heads in front of me, it is very difficult for me looking at 
the stage sideways; and secondly, because the composer of the 
stage picture never expected me to look at it sideways. I may 
say that heads are a cause of obstruction in every part of a com- 
mercial auditorium except the front rows and the boxes. When 
His Majesty's Theatre, London, was built it was said to be a 
new model of a commercial theatre. But the main architectural 
problem solved by this theatre was to satisfy the requirements 
of the typical theatrical speculator (Sir Herbert Tree) who 
primarily demands the greatest accommodation in a limited 
space at as low a cost as possible. The theatre cost ^60,000 and 
accommodates about 1,500 persons. The approximate dimen- 
sions are : Width of the proscenium opening at the curtain line, 
35 feet; height 29 feet 6 inches. Auditorium: Curtain line to 
front and first tier, 34 feet; to front of second tier, 40 feet; to 
farthest seat, 79 feet. Stage: Curtain line to containing back 
wall, 49 feet. From this it appears that from the farthest seat 

1 " Modern Theatre Architecture," E. Kinsila. 



310 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

to the back of the stage is a distance of 128 feet, which means 
that figures at the back of a full stage composition are greatly 
diminished, while colour arrangements lose their value. The 
width of the main floor of the auditorium greatly exceeds that 
of the proscenium opening, with the result that persons seated 
to the right and left of the stalls have only a partial view of the 
stage picture. 1 

The use of the old theatres as cinemas is really condemned 
by the recent influence exerted by the moving picture on the 
construction of standardised cinemas. A marked influence 
appears in the doing away with the gallery and the old side 
seats in the tiers; just as the newly-erected super and super-super- 
cinemas are condemned by the influence which is about to be 
exerted on the construction of the Cinema by the giant screen 
and the stereoscopic picture. 

3. Building. During 1926-1930 English, American, and 
English and American combines of big renting concerns, cinema 
owners, bankers, speculators, and gamblers have been engaged 
in a great and " cosdy campaign to cover the Capital (London) 
— suburbs and all — with film theatres rivalling in size and 
luxury anything in America." 2 And it may be added, to cover 
the provinces as well. As a result colossal picture palaces re- 
sembling " mountains of marble, plate-glass and gilding," 3 or 
glorified railway termini, or vast mausoleums for little pictures, 
have, at the touch of the capitalists' wand, sprung up all over 
our Mammonised Metropolis. Their names, Astoria, Capitol, 
Plaza, Tivoli, Regal, Empire (rebuilt), Metropole, Regent, 
suggest size, capital, and atmosphere. Is it more than a coin- 
cidence that some of these names and some of the " atmospheric " 
interiors suggest the ideals and ideas of the military freebooters 
upon which Western capitalistic civilisation is based? 

Examine these palaces to which the frenzied fight for 
wealth has given birth and we shall find they are all made to 

1 See " Theatre Architecture," E. O. Sachs. 

2 Evening News, February 3, 1927. 

3 << The T imes Film Number Supplement," March 19, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 311 

a pattern, their plans, materials, their equipment are all in- 
fluenced by one set of economic necessities. 

" The general recipe for these new picture theatres of per- 
fection is of great interest. 

" Take 1,000,000 bricks, 1,000 tons of steel, 4,000 seats, an 
organ costing ^10,000, a roof garden with tennis and badmin- 
ton courts, a stage bigger than that at Drury Lane, an auto- 
matic restaurant, a series of shops, a nursery, an Italian Garden, 
and ^250,000, and mix well." 1 

A nursery. An automatic restaurant. Tennis courts. 
Italian Garden. A landscape picture theatre which will give 
the audience " the illusion of sitting in an Italian garden beneath 
a sky which can present sunrise, noon or night, with or with- 
out stars, as and when desired." 2 Such slices of Italy dot the 
London landscape — the Lido at Golder's Green, the Astoria at 
Brixton, the Regal at the Marble Arch, are three of them. 

The mode of construction is determined by commercial 
speculation, as was the case with His Majesty's Theatre, by get- 
rich-quick competition, by the struggle for monopoly, by the 
requirements of a small screen measuring approximately 30 feet 
wide by 25 feet high, by the necessity of attracting and holding 
big audiences of from 3,000 to 5,000 persons. Actually they 
are examples of the embodiment of the latest demand for 
economic planning and cinema equipment and public comfort 
and convenience without due regard to cinema visual values, 
and a proper return to the public for the rent paid for seats. Of 
course, it may be admitted that a " patron " who pays 5/- and 
receives an Italian garden and a gilded club and a wash and 
brush up free of charge, is getting quite a lot for his money. 
If in addition he is allowed to catch fleeting glimpses of the 
procession on the screen he should consider himself exceedingly 
lucky. 

The enormous size of these illuminated addresses to the 

1 Daily Chronicle, July 29, 1929. 

2 Ibid. 



3 i2 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Stock Exchange implies that the business men who control them 
have discovered that the little cinema does not pay. A super- 
cinema holds at least ten times more persons, and can, if 
managed successfully, make fabulous profits. The running cost 
a week of one of the largest and latest of London's cinemas is 
approximately ^2,000. 

" One West End cinema invariably takes a film out of 
the programme if the takings drop below ^2,500 a week. Four 
thousand pounds a week is what this theatre considers to be a 
' satisfactory ' box-office total." 1 

When the Empire opened it was estimated that during the 
first week the takings averaged ^3,500 daily. The Sunday 
attendances at four West End super-cinemas on April 28th, 1929, 
were as follows: "Empire, 7,355; Tivoli, 7,084; Plaza, between 
6,000 and 7,000; Capitol, 3,45 J." 2 

But costly and sumptuous though these Aladdin-like 
structures are, they cannot disguise the fact that they do not 
fulfil their undertaking to give the audience full picture value 
for its money. The dimensions are ridiculous. The vast audi- 
torium is out of all proportion to the tiny screen. Take the 
dimensions of the Dominion theatre — a theatre that may or 
may not be used later as a cinema. " The stage is a hundred 
feet in depth and forty feet wide . . . the theatre is very 
wide at the back — a matter of nearly 120 feet." 3 Put a 
screen, say, 30 feet by 20 feet, in the proscenium opening 
and according to where you sit in this converging auditorium 
the small rectangular screened picture assumes a different 
mathematical figure — square, parallelogram, rhomboid, rhom- 
bus, right-angle triangle, and trapezium. The close up presents 
a variety of circles, — full, half, segment, cylinder, if you are 
looking down from a height or up from a depth. The values 
of angles pictures, unless seen from a very small area of the 
auditorium, are almost destroyed. Big distance from the screen 

1 Evening News, February 2, 1927. 

2 Evening Standard, April 29, 1929. 

3 Observer, September 29, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 313 

does not lend enchantment to the view, for the picture decreases 
in the inverse ratio of its square. At the Stoll picture house, 
which was originally constructed for use as an Opera House, 
there is a row of boxes at the back of the very deep auditorium, 
facing the stage. 

There are super-cinemas that have more reasonable dimen- 
sions than the Dominion theatre. The Regal, for instance. 
But generally speaking the amount of correct sight line in these 
huge cinemas is very small indeed, and this is interfered with 
by the lack of proper slope of the main floor or the balcony 
slope, which makes it impossible to see over the heads in front. 
This loss of picture values is the worst feature of the super- 
cinema. It is the outcome of an application on a gigantic scale 
of the abuse that began when the commercial theatre began in 
Burbage's time. Ever since, the commercial theatre owners and 
managers have promised the public a pound's worth of com- 
modity in exchange for a pound sterling, while the public has 
received from these men of spotless character and unimpeach- 
able probity, for the most part, little more than half, or it may 
be a quarter, their money's worth. 

3. Finance. Booming the English Cinema Industry on 
the false assumptions and " falacious premises " of the Quota 
Act has, it seems, been since 1926, not only fashionable but the 
means of many discreditable financial transactions. It is stated 
on the best authority that Quota has been made the basis of 
a systematic appeal to the investing public for the use of its 
gold. Company after company have been formed and the 
public has rushed in and bought shares, and shares have depre- 
ciated. Out of these and other facts has grown the story of 
the greatest gamble in the history of the English Film Industry. 
It is the story of how ^1,800,000 was absolutely thrown away. 
Vigorous attempts have been made by friends of Quota to 
minimise this, one of the worst, if not the worst effect of the 
Quota. Let me state some of the evidence produced by both 
sides. 



3*4 



THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



Not long ago a very vigorously worded article supported 
by an array of figures appeared in a London evening newsprint. 
It was headed in black type: "British Films: The Dismal 
Fads. Loss to investors of nearly one and a half millions." 
Thereafter it proceeded to expose and explain the " dismal 
facts " by answering the question, What is wrong with the 
British Film industry ? It is ' protected ' by the Quota Act yet 
it is comatose. The financial losses are enormous; the artistic 
output is negligible; the unemployment is tragic." 1 As a guide 
to the black outlook it made " an analysis of fourteen British 
Companies, comparing the value of their shares then with what 
it is in the market now shows a drop from £2,390,962 to 
£1,443,738, a loss of 60 per cent. 









Approx. 


Approx. 






Total 


Present 


Present 




Latest 


Cost 


Market 


Market 




Issues. 


to Public. 


Price. 


Value. 




£ 


£ 


s. 


d. 


£ 


Blattner Pic. £1 Pf. 


180,000 


180,000 


7 





63,000 


Is. Df. . 


.. 1,000,000 


50,000 


11 


46,000 


British Filmcraft 5s. 


400,000 


100,000 


1 


3 


25,000 


„ Instructinl 10s. . 


200,000 


110,000 


9 





90,000 


„ Lion £1 Pf. 


160,000 


160,000 


4 


4* 


35,000 


„ Is. Pf. 


160,000 


8,000 





7* 


5,000 


Brit. Phototone 5s. 


400,000 


100,000 


2 





40,000 


Brit. Screen Prod. 5s. . 


500,000 


125,000 


2 





50,000 


Brit. & Fgn. Films 5s. . 


800,000 


200,000 


3 





120,000 


French Phototone 5s. 


800,000 


200,000 


1 


3 


50,000 


Gainsborough Pic. £1 


200,000 


200,000 


9 


3 


92,500 


„ Is. . 


200,000 


10,000 


2 





20,000 


Moviecolour 5s 


1,800,000 


450,000 


2 





180,000 


New Era Films £1 Pf. . 


94,250 


94,250 


7 


6 


35,344 


Is. Df. . 


94,250 


4,712 


1 


6 


7,068 


Pro Patria Films 5s. 


210,000 


52,500 


4 


3 


43,625 


Whitehall Films £1 Pf. . 


160,000 


160,000 


1 


9 


14,000 


Is. Df. . 


160,000 


8,000 





3 


2,000 


Wish Prsn-Eldr £1 Pf. . 


170,000 


170,000 


3 


1* 


26,562 


>> >> 5> IS. 


170,000 


8,500 
2,390,962 





3 


2,125 
947,224 



LOSS £1,443,738 

" All the above, except British Instructional, which was 
issued at is. premium, were offered at par." 

" The passing of the Films (Quota) Act designed to give 
Protection to the new industry led to a rush of flotations and 

1 The Star, June 5, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 315 

the creation of new enterprises. The public, patriotically will- 
ing to support such a promising industry, threw in their funds. 
The company promoter entered the happy hunting ground. 

" Between the end of 1927 when the Quota Act was passed „ 
and the end of the following year, 1928, between two and three 
million pounds worth of shares were bought by the British 
public. 

" Of that sum ^1,400,000 has already been lost." 1 

At the same time as this article appeared another was 
published in a London morning newspaper. It had a similar 
character and dealt with the subject of " British Picture Huge 
Losses," and contained a long table of Film Issues of 1927-1928, 
which showed that the public lost ^1,817,511 or 61.6 p.c. of the 
capital subscribed. 2 

This attack on " British Film finance " was met by an 
equally vigorous denial from reliable quarters. There were, for 
example, the categorical denials by Mr. Charles Tennyson, which 
included the following criticism of the table of share values. 

" Finally I must protest most strongly against the table 
of share values you published and the construction your cor- 
respondent places upon it. It is difficult to imagine any less 
reliable barometer of the prosperity of an industry than the 
tabulation of the market quotations of the shares of certain 
arbitrarily selected companies. Any industry could be proved 
virtually bankrupt by this method which must be held to exceed 
the bounds of fair criticism when the list of companies only 
includes those whose shares stand at a discount, and which in 
the case of one company at least omits reference to the other 
class of shares which are at a premium. Thus I note your table 
omits entirely British International and Gaumont British, both 
of whose shares stand at a premium, and it only includes 
British Instructional Ordinary shares which stand at a small 
discount, and refrains from mentioning the deferred shares 

1 The Star, June 5, 1929. 

2 Daily Chronicle, June 7, 1929. 



316 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

which are at a high premium. Moreover, professing to be 
an index of the prosperity of the producing side of the industry, 
it quotes one company which is purely a renting organisation 
and has therefore nothing whatever to do with production. The 
table is, therefore, doubly misleading and inaccurate." 1 

A reply to the criticism appeared in a leading Sunday news- 
paper by a writer who took the view that the attack was part 
of the three-fold anti-British propaganda aiming i. "to dis- 
credit British film finance," 2. "to establish that the Cinemato- 
graph Films Act has been a failure," 3. " to bring all British 
film production effort (personnel, staff, studios, etc.) into dis- 
repute." 2 Another reply to the articles was made by Mr. John 
Maxwell, Chairman of the British International Pictures. 3 The 
Federation of British Industries issued a circular on the subject 
of the damaging attacks. 4 Subsequently the Star published Mr. 
Maxwell's reply. 5 This was followed later by a reply headed 
" A Producer Endorses the Revelations made by the Star." 6 

All things considered, it may be said, I think, that there 
was something financially rotten in the state of the reborn 
English Film Industry. " Mushroom Companies " was the 
subject of strong comment by the financial editor of a weekly 
Journal, who said, " the public has been badly bitten by some 
of these mushroom companies. . . . Several of these com- 
panies' reports and balance-sheets are due, and the sooner they 
are made public, however bad they may be, the better for the 
industry." Continuing he considers in detail " ' the very un- 
satisfactory state of affairs ' shown by the belated report and 
balance-sheet of the Whitehall Films, Ltd." 7 

Referring to this company's affairs a critic said : 

" Consider the report which has recently been issued by 

1 Extract from the typed reply by Charles Tennyson, Chairman Film 
Manufacturers' Group, June 14, 1929. 

2 Sunday Referee, June 16, 1929. 

3 Film Weekly, June 17, 1929. 

4 Ibid. 

* The Star, June 11, 1929. 

« The Star, June 14, 1929. 

7 The Film Weekly, June 17, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 317 

Whitehall Films. This company went to the public in Novem- 
ber, 1927, and proceeded to build a costly studio at Elstree. 

" There is no mention of the company ever having pro- 
duced a British film in its Elstree studio. Instead, it bought 
one or two foreign films. Its accounts for the period from 
November, 1927, to January 31, 1929, show a loss of ^31,245. 
No provision has been made for depreciation of buildings and 
equipment, which stand at about ^64,000. All the cash that 
remains is ^329. 

" The auditors report that over ^10,000 has been paid to 
managing directors for various considerations, in addition to 
directors' fees. It would be difficult to imagine a more pitiable 
state of affairs for a company which obtained ^168,000 from 
the British public on the strength of Government ' protection ' 
of the British film industry." 1 

u Voice of an angry shareholder at this Film Company's 
meeting : ' Why did Mr. Lapworth, before he resigned the posi- 
tion of joint managing director and drew £y,ooo, buy the pic- 
ture " Joan of Arc " which the censor banned? ' " 2 * Joan 
of Arc ' was banned by the censor and was an entire loss." 3 
" Mr. Charles Lapworth has held important positions in the 
Goldwyn organisation and the Gainsborough Pictures, Ltd." 4 
' Whitehall Films Company have failed; and in other Quota 
companies the shareholders have seen the value of their shares 
enormously reduced." 5 

4. War. From all this it will be gathered that the Quota 
Act in practice was the cause of violent disturbances and shame- 
ful abuse which were not confined to English Production Com- 
panies and Renters' concerns. In fact, war developed on two 
" Fronts " to use a military term, the American and the Home 
ones. There was civil war in England, conflicts between the 

1 The Daily Chronicle, June 7, 1929. 

2 Evening News, June 24, 1929. 

3 Daily Chronicle, June 25, 1929. 

4 See " The Theatre, Music Hall and Cinema Companies Blue Book, 
1928-9," for Whitehall Films Ltd., p. 138. 

5 Daily Express, November 13, 1929. 

23 



318 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

friends and opponents of the Quota, and war on England by 
America, and marchings and countermarchings of forces on 
both sides. Looking closely at this contemptible effect it is not 
hard to discover that there was a strong political as well as an 
economic motive underlying it. Both attack and defence 
centred round the principle of protection included in the Quota 
Bill, and there were doubtless many attackers and defenders 
who justified their action by the political motive while relating 
it to an economic one. While English critics complained of 
interference with the liberty of the exhibitor and the incentive 
offered to the production of cheap and bad English pictures; 
the American Film Kings objected to a sort of tariff wall being 
put round the English market with the aim of excluding their 
goods. Accordingly they employed every means to overcome 
the Act, or evade the fulfilment of its terms. By all accounts, 
some at least of the most violent attacks were made in concert 
by representatives of the two nations in a manner agreed upon 
between them. Others were strongly influenced by the Ameri- 
cans. " The campaign against the Cinematograph Films Act 
is avowedly of American origin." 1 . . . " The reason for 
this campaign is that Americans fear the power of the great 
circuits of cinemas which have come into being as the result of 
the Act." 2 

For a considerable time attacks and counter-attacks con- 
tinued to be made with more or less violence. Then came the 
Talkie to give a new orientation to the war on the two Fronts. 
And one of the effects of the coming of the Talkie has been the 
change of opinion concerning the Quota. Critics and writers who 
a year ago were so eager to exalt the Quota are now as eager 
to have it revised or abolished altogether. Headlines that an- 
nounced the " Success of the Films Act " are now replaced by 
others announcing the " Failure of the Films Act." 3 The 

i " Spotlight," in Sunday Referee, June 19, 1929. 

2 Ibid. 

3 An " Analysis of the Present Position of the Motion Picture Industry 
in England," by Sir Gordon Craig, reviewed by " Spotlight," in Sunday 
Referee, March 3, 1930. 



THE RIDDLE 319 

grounds for this change appear to be that 1. " The Cinemato- 
graph Films Act has failed to realise its original intention." 
Accordingly 2. " Its regulations should be amended to require 
distributors of motion pictures in Britain to have 25 p.c. of 
British films in their total output. 3. The Quota should be re- 
moved from exhibitors." 1 

2. The Talkie. Advance or Retreat 

On the whole the Quota Act may be said to have had a 
marked influence on the revival of the English Picture Industry. 
The idea of a national industry has undergone a gradual and 
formative development. The Act stimulated the establishment 
of the various departments of an English Hollywood. The 
word Hollywood must be used because the English structure 
so closely copies the American one in many essential details, just 
as the English pictures continue to be strongly influenced by 
the American ones. At the same time it has been the cause of, 
some of these departments, especially the financial one, being put 
to corrupt and evil uses for which they were never intended, and 
as a result has become exceedingly offensive to clean-minded 
persons. In the Autumn of 1928, the English Picture Industry 
came under another and more powerful shaping influence by 
means of which, it is generally thought, the story of the struggle 
to free the Industry of the American monopoly may be brought 
to a close. It is important to inquire to what extent is that 
view justified? Is England any nearer an All-English Cinema 
Industry and All-English pictures to-day than it was in the 
latter days of 1928? Or has the struggle which began with the 
Quota simply been intensified with perhaps the advantage on 
the side of the invading American hosts? In short, what 
amount of freedom of development have the cinema activities 
in this country obtained through the Talkie? 

The latter days of 1928 witnessed the introduction to the 

1 An " Analysis of the Present Position of the Motion Ficture Industry 
in England," by Sir Gordon Craig, reviewed by " Spotlight," in Sunday 
Referee, March 3, 1930. 



3 20 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Cinema of this country of that principle of power which the 
Americans had already put to practical and highly profitable use 
in their own country. No event in the history of the Cinema 
was more significant; and none, probably, was of more far-reach- 
ing consequences either as to the issues involved, or the con- 
troversies and the new problems arising out of the application 
of the voice to the Camera. It brought to a complete close the 
first and most amazing stage of the career of the Cinema, and 
it opened up a new and problematic one. In America the 
change it wrought was said to amount to a Revolution, meaning 
a reversal of the accepted ideals and ideas of the Picture In- 
dustry and of organisation affecting production, distribution, ex- 
change and consumption. In England the arrival of the Talkie 
had immediate important effects. In the first place, it 
threatened to close the Theatre. In the second, it armed the 
Americans with a weapon, the Talkie apparatus, with which 
they threatened completely to capture the control of all enter- 
tainment enterprise in this country. In the third, by a stroke of 
irony it provided the English Industry and Cinema with a 
powerful weapon, the Voice, which could be made use of to 
vanquish the Americans who had brought it to practical use as 
a weapon to be used against England. In future days when the 
history of the Talkie comes to be written, the question that 
the historian will ask and answer is, how did England use the 
Talkie weapon against those who would have enslaved or des- 
troyed the English Cinema Industry with it? 

The story of England's struggle to take fullest advantage 
of the weapon put into its hands would doubtless be followed 
in the order of its progress. And probably it would be said 
that the fresh start at opposition to the American monopoly 
began almost as soon as the Talkie reached these shores. But 
it would be pointed out that the cinema forces in this country 
were unready as usual to meet the full attack, that there was 
no concerted action against the monopolists armed with the 
microphone, with the result that the monopolists got in the 



THE RIDDLE 321 

first and staggering blow and began to supply the English 
cinema-going public with their new entertainment long before 
the English Film Kings had fully realised the principle on which 
that entertainment was founded. Their awakening came with 
the recognition that the American Film Kings were forcing 
down the throats of the English cinema-going public a com- 
modity of the kind and quantity for which it cared little, namely 
the American Voice with the Star Spangled manner; that the 
said Kings understood this and were accordingly plotting to 
capture and exploit the English Voice before the effect of their 
first blow wore off. 

And then probably the historian would make an attempt 
to determine what progress, if any, marked the early stage of 
the Fight for the Voice. Surveying the position of the opposing 
forces at the opening of the big new offensive he would note 
that the situation was very favourable to the English cinema 
business men, because it was not possible, or possible only under 
the gravest difficulties, for the Americans to present talking 
pictures in foreign languages, and because the English language 
was spoken and understood in countries all over the world. He 
would note that the American Film Kings were quick to recog- 
nise the low market value of the American voice, and the almost 
insuperable difficulty of making pictures in foreign languages 
at Hollywood situated 6,000 miles from Europe and maybe from 
enlightened civilisation. Therefore they turned to other methods 
in order to bolster up their tottering world market. Tradition- 
ally, they were magnificently equipped to start with. They had 
an unparalleled business organisation. They were supported by 
mammoth financial organisations. They had no illusions about 
money-making. Mammon was their leader, their god. They 
were in a position to unite with and to utilise the most power- 
ful resources of the American electrical industry. They called 
to their aid the mighty Western Electric Company and the 
Radio Corporation of America — two organisations that 
threatened to bring the whole Cinema world under the dominion 



322 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

of their talking picture equipment. Thus fortified they 
descended, like Caear's unbeaten legions of old, upon this un- 
fortunate country, fully prepared, it would seem, to sweep Eng- 
land's cinema " contemptibles " into the sea. Then the battle 
began. The objective of the Americans was the cornering of 
everything English suitable for the American-made English 
Talkie, and the laying down of a network of Talkie equipment 
in order to entangle and hold fast the English picture exhibitor. 
The exhibitor was to be induced to instal the American equip- 
ment at a ruinous price only to discover when it was installed 
that he must not use it to exhibit any pictures save American 
ones. Employing this weapon, the wily American Film Kings 
succeeded in obtaining a very substantial initial advantage which 
they contrived to maintain by making concessions of all kinds, 
such as lowering the price of equipment from ^4,000 to ^1,200, 
and supplying it on the instalment plan with payments spread 
over three years; by buying up, wholesale, theatres and cinemas, 
building new mammoth ones, equipping them with their own 
Talkie systems and stocking them with their own sensational 
and sentimental and some critics say "filthy" commodities; by 
the wholesale purchase of English theatrical directors, producers, 
players, singers, dancers, playwrights, plays, stories; in a word, 
by cornering the English flesh and blood market. Further, in 
addition to coercion by means of equipment, there was ingenious 
intimidation by means of promised new mechanical devices. 
Shrieking advertisements announced that new storm troops, in 
the shape of the giant screen and the grandeur picture, the 
stereoscopic picture and the all-colour picture, were in readi- 
ness for fresh assaults, as though they were reserves about 
to be brought up to batter away England's last cinema 
defences. Such announcements were made with the ostensible 
purpose of frightening the English Production Companies' 
renters and exhibitors out of their wits, and forcing them into 
complete idleness, for what could they do faced with frenzied 
guesswork technical developments which must invariably in- 



THE RIDDLE 323 

fluence the making of the picture and the form and use of the 
cinema, and render useless the cinemas already in use. Already 
the giant screen had been tested in America with results that 
said plainly that the existing cinemas of enormous size v/ere 
doomed. Their mode of construction fitted them for the pur- 
pose for which they were intended, the exhibition of the small 
silent picture for profit, but not for the use of the Talkie and 
the Giant Screen. Acoustics were finding out their weaknesses 
and discovering innumerable " dead spots " in their old armour, 
while the Giant Screen was playing havoc with their sight lines 
and angles of vision. 

Having surveyed these facts of the early triumph of the 
Americans in the new war for world supremacy, the historian 
would ask, "What did the English forces do to meet the 
American attack? What advantage did they take of the situa- 
tion made favourable for them by the Voice? What steps did 
they take to overcome the paralysing fear produced by the 
American methods of competition, coercion, intimidation and 
the cornering of raw materials and machinery of exhibition? 
How were they equipped for the struggle? " 

Looking squarely at English facts, his answers would run 
as follows: English side unprepared. Confusion. Initial diffi- 
culties and troubles. No great business organisation. No sup- 
porting mammoth money organisations. No backers save the 
investing public made shy by bitter experience. No credit. City 
financial experts refuse to look at Talkie proposals. Critics 
fighting over the Talkie, — one side giving it hell, the other side 
pouring butter over it (or could it be margarine?). For the first 
year, during which the Americans dug themselves in the Eng- 
lish soil, comparatively little was done to make use of the new 
principle of power and isolation, the Voice. It is true that 
*' about twenty producing systems on the disc, gramophone and 
on the film were in use." 1 But on the whole the English voice 
was held up by equipment, " which was the key to the situa- 

1 W. G. Faulkner, " The Daily Mail Year Book, 1930." 



324 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tion." 1 " Before the end of 1929 American engineers had 
equipped 500 cinemas in Great Britain." 2 To-day 1,000 are 
equipped but not all by America. The cause of this situation 
is the lack of knowledge of sound recording and reproduction 
systems, and lack of experience in making sound and Talkie 
pictures on the part of English producers. While Germany 
has been experimenting for years with sound and Talkie 
apparatus, and has perfected and patented several important 
systems, including the " Klangfilm " controlled by Siemens- 
Halske, 3 which was sufficiently powerful to challenge the 
American Western Electric system, England had done nothing. 
One effect of the situation was an exodus of English picture 
producers and play producers to Hollywood to learn their busi- 
ness, and their return, like the spies from Canaan, laden with 
the fruit of the Hollywood vineyard, drunk with its fumes, and 
bearing an unfaithful report. The punishment they inflicted 
on this country was soon apparent. Instead of organising the 
spirit of England in the English Talkie, they adulterated it with 
the spirit of Hollywood as breathed on the American audience 
by the nasal brigade. Its content fell, American-like, into four 
categories, " stage drama or comedy, musical play and 
spectacle," 4 and a blend of the three, like " Broadway Melody." 
The uncertainty as to whether the silent picture was dying 
caused it to fall into three other categories, all-Talkie, half-Talkie 
and sound. The Hollywood spirit is suggested by the following 
titles: " Need of Film to Express British Ideals." 5 " Britain's 
Cinema Studio Failures. . . . The Talkies Still Loyal to 
Crime and Cabaret." 6 " British Talkie Hustle. . . . Two 
Noted Plays." 7 The two " noted plays " are " Rookery Nook " 
(crooks) and " Splinters " (theatrical entertainment on the 
Western Front). " Britain Still Behind. ... So far, un- 

1 2 3 W. G. Faulkner, " The Daily Mail Year Book, 1930." 
* Evening Standard, May 13, 1929. 
5 Daily Mail, September 9, 1929. 
« Daily Chronicle, October 7, 1929. 
7 Daily Chronicle, September 9, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 325 

fortunately, Britain has not taken up talking picture produc- 
tion with anything like the same enterprise as has been shown 
in America. In great part, stories for British directors are chosen 
with hand-to-mouth desperation, the support given to our 
directors is inadequate, and our studio organisation is often 
chaotic. But, in spite of this, it is a fact that the talking picture 
' Blackmail ' has been the first British picture to be received with 
open arms in America." 1 " British Film Triumph. 
' Blackmail ' a Great Talkie." 2 " ' Blackmail * re-established 
the Capitol, which is now doing record business with ' The Cock- 
Eyed World ' ' (otherwise America). 3 Many more " British 
made " pictures came up for judgment, including " Juno and 
the Paycock " and " The Informer " (both dealing with Ireland 
at civil war and revolution time but with civil war and revolu- 
tion left out), " Red Hell " (the question of capital punishment), 
" High Treason " (influenced by " Metropolis " and exhibiting 
murder as a means to world peace), and so on. But " Black- 
mail " was the bill-topper. It took the fancy of the English 
critics. What a title ! What a subject ! Could it be that they 
associated and confused it with the spirit of England — that fine 
spirit, I mean, which should inspire a policy and inform Eng- 
lish pictures? Will not " Blackmail " become associated in the 
mind of the future historian with America — America of the 
Chicago and Bowery civilisation. 

Still, unsatisfactory as English Cinema conditions during 
the eventful first year of the Talkie may appear to the writer 
who, in the year 2000 B.C. looks back, he will find a crumb of 
comfort. He will note the ambitious tendency towards an All- 
Europe Cinema Pact. " The Great British ' Talkie ' Offensive. 
. . . Production-Theatre Project " aiming at the formation of 
a solid European Front against U.S. interests. " The Great 
Anglo-Continental Combine " — a project initiated by the British 
Instructional Films and its active chairman, Mr. A. E. 

1 Daily Chronicle, September 30, 1929. 

2 Daily Chronicle, June 24, 1929. 

3 Daily Chronicle, September 30, 1929. 



326 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Bundy, and no less active manager, Mr. H. Bruce Woolfe. 1 
Finally, the historian would have something to say on the sub- 
ject of the war between the Cinema and the Theatre produced 
by the Talkie. He would note the reign of Terror in the 
Theatre, the abject flight of some of its best producers, players 
and playwrights, the swift conversion of its commecial stalwarts, 
like Mr. Charles Cochran and Mr. Albert de Courville, to the 
view that the Talkie was not built upon a foundation of wood, 
hay and stubble, but upon one of gold, silver and precious stones 
(or precious " stars " as Mr. Cochran, as a business man not a 
biblical scholar, would put it). The Talkie temple was indeed 
more like the Stock Exchange than the temple of God, and its 
master builders possessed more financial wisdom than spiritual 
grace. Two other facts would demand to be noted, the building 
of the mammoth theatre, such as " The Dominion," projected 
by Sir Alfred Butt and his colleagues, to meet the Talkie 
menace, and the coming of a ray of light in the Talkie dark- 
ness to promise a new and fruitful relation between the Cinema 
and the Theatre. In the giant screen and the big projection 
more than one person of sense detected a means whereby the 
Cinema would come to shoulder some of the larger responsi- 
bilities of the Theatre — responsibilities of representation which 
lay heavily upon and threatened to destroy it, if anything could. 
So the Cinema would share the task of reflecting human beings 
converting this dull earth into a heaven or Garden of Heaven 
through the destruction of Sin. 

Regarding the American Talkie of 1928-30 he would note 
that Sin loomed very large in that medium, that is, if he con- 
sulted the utterances of that stern moralist Mr. James Douglas, 
the editor of the Sunday Express. " Hollywood Makes Me 
Angry Too," said Mr. Douglas. He was not surprised that 
*' Mr. G. A. Atkinson had become a crusader as fierce and 
furious as Mr. Bernard Shaw " and himself. " Orgy of frenzied 

1 The nature and aims of the scheme were set forth in a memorandum 
issued by the Federation of British Industries, April 27, 1929. 



THE RIDDLE 



3 2 7 



filth " were the hard words, quoted with approval by Mr. 
Douglas, that Mr. Atkinson used to sum up " His diatribe 
against ' Films That Degrade Womanhood V' 1 Can this be 
Armageddon? When our historian glances back and notes that 
the Talkie was disseminating the filth of the world, not the 
spirit of the world, will he write, — In the year 1930 the Cinema 
reached the lowest point in its downward path. The isolating 
influence of the Talkie stimulated the good spirit which is in 
nations. Hence arose a great conflict between the two pur- 
poses in the Cinema, the Good and the Bad. And in the end 
the spirit of the world prevailed and the spirit of filth perished? 

1 Daily Express, March 3, 1930; see also G. A. Atkinson, in the Daily 
Express, March 17, 1930. 




Architecture. The problem of sight-line. 
Drury Lane theatre. View of stage and figures 
from the centre of the third row of stalls showing the 
proportions of the figures to the heads of the spec- 
tators, and the view of the stage cut off by the latter. 
The Great Day is being played. From a sketch 
drawn on the author's programme by Jessie Dismorr. 



CHAPTER X 



THE SOLUTION 



THE RUSSIAN WING OF HOLLYWOOD AND THE 
AFFIRMATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 

So far I have written mainly of the denial of the New Spirit 
or Good Purpose in the Cinema, by those who have used, or 
misused, it as a medium of profit. At the same time I have 
shown that the New Spirit lurks in the defiled temple and has 
manifested itself from time to time where nought was but blood 
and fire and pillars of smoke, and in such a way as to satisfy 
those who hunger and thirst for the Good Purpose. 

I now come to the definite affirmation of the New Spirit. 
By this I mean the conception of the Cinema as an organic part 
of human society and the attempt to use it for the purpose of 
the organisation of the new spirit of a nation. 

Strangely enough, it is to Bolshevist Russia, that outcast of 
present-day great nations — outcast because of its strict adherence 
to principles and policies of its own — that I turn for evidence 
of the existence of a principle of good in the Cinema, and of 
the success to put it to practical use. 

At this point let me say that I was attracted by the social 
possibilities and performance of the Bolshevist cinema at a very 
early period in its history. I re-entered Russia not very long 
after the Revolution with the avowed intention of making a 
study of its cultural institutions undergoing a gradual formative 
change, a part of my general personal experience of the human 
uses to which the Theatre and the Cinema were put during the 
War and after. Thus I came to watch and note the extra- 

328 



THE SOLUTION 



3 2 9 



ordinary reactions of the liberated cinema to the new social 
world in the making, and the reactions of the mass to the 
Cinema as a medium of conscious social expression. Outside 
Bolshevist Russia the distressed peoples took their wishes to the 
Cinema to have them fulfilled by unintentional means. To 
derive consolation from material objects not intentionally 
designed to afford consolation. In Russia the people liberated 
from old restraints took their wishes to the Cinema to have them 
fulfilled by intentional means. At first they sought relief from 
the fear that possessed them that their new kingdom (as bol- 
shevists called Russia) would be overthrown. They found the 
pictures intentionally designed to afford relief and to place the 
audience upon a mountain whence they could see distinctly all 
parts of the Bolshevist structure which was finally to deliver the 
people from captivity. 

In these words are contained a suggestion of my adven- 
tures in Bolshevist Russia in quest of the perfect cinema, and 
they embody the broad principle upon which the new cultural 
institutions in Bolshevist Russia are founded. I do not propose 
to describe the first nor to expound the second here. I have 
done so fully in two important books on the Russian theatre and 
Cinema, and in innumerable articles contributed to technical 
and other journals in this country and abroad. 1 

In my writings I have always taken the view that the con- 
cept of the Cinema grew out of the Bolshevist synoptic vision, 
a vision, that is, of a national organic unity. There was to be 
a new nation fitted for the purpose of the attainment of social 
liberation. In this nation were to be many cultural institutions 
each fitted for the purpose of assisting in the attainment of social 
liberation. One of these was the Cinema. Hence the Cinema 
was conceived as an instrument of liberation. Its policy was to 
portray both the Old and the New Russia; to destroy the 
imperialist spirit of the one, and to glorify the bolshevist spirit 

i See " The New Theatre and Cinema of Soviet Russia," 1924. " The 
New Spirit in the Russian Theatre and Cinema " (Brentano), 1929. 
Articles in " The Kinematograph Weekly," etc. 



330 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

of the other. Its motive was social enhancement, not social 
degradation. But under the influence of Civil War, Black 
Famine, Economic Disaster, and other reverses, the motive has 
appeared first as Militant Bolshevism, second as Constructive 
Bolshevism. The Cinema has, in fact, been in turn a fighting 
machine and a building machine. 

The vision influenced the organisation, the builders, the 
foundations, the materials, the structure, the content, and the 
method. The organisation was not a mighty commercial one. 
The builders were not men of brass with a Wall Street telephone 
in one hand, and a map of the world covered with sales 
organisations flags in the other. The foundations were not of 
solid gold. The materials were not fragments of human beings. 
The structure was not a colossal mill for grinding these frag- 
ments into profit-making pictures. The content was not sensa- 
tional and highly spiced sex and crime and abhorrent world 
filth. The method was not guesswork. In place of Mammon 
and Guesswork were Humanity and Science. 

Then why a Wing of Hollywood? Let history answer. 

Before the War there was not any production of moving 
pictures, or technical equipment of Factory and Cinema in 
Russia. Pictures and apparatus were imported, mainly from 
America. Thus America may be said to have laid the founda- 
tions of the Cinema Industry in Russia. About 1912 there was 
a good deal of activity in cinema building, in particular in 
Leningrad (then Petrograd). Many new cinemas of the mam- 
moth and luxury types were built. A few were left unfinished 
in which state they are still used to-day. Their equipment was 
supplied by foreign firms. They exhibited, mostly American, 
French and English pictures. Both factories and cinemas were 
sadly afflicted by the War and the events of the two 191 7 Revolu- 
tions, — the All-Russia one and the Bolshevist one. So that when 
the Bolshevists came into power they received a legacy of half- 
destroyed and poorly-equipped factories and hundreds of 
cinemas, which, with the exception of the new ones at Lenin- 



THE SOLUTION 331 

grad, were in a shocking condition. In addition, they received 
a large quantity of American and European pictures capable of 
exerting an influence on Bolshevist scenario writers and 
technicians. Two years of Civil War and neglect served to add 
considerably to the horrors of the unhappy war- and revolution- 
stricken cinemas. I remember a kind-hearted Bolshevist critic 
begging me for the Lord's sake not to enter one of these places. 
If I did I should surely die by the hands of cholera-carrying lice. 
But I entered them all the same, without receiving one dangerous 
gift from the lice. In 1921-22, with the end of the Civil War 
came the attempt by the Bolshevist authorities to organise both 
the Cinema on the unifying principle contained in Bolshevist 
philosophy — the principle of national unity and co-operation. 
It was not an easy job, for factories and cinemas were out of 
repair; in the one, production was almost impossible; in the 
other, projection and accommodation were not fitted to serve 
the ends of the new organisation. The Bolshevist ideal of the 
Cinema for All was obstructed by the actual condition of no 
cinema fit for anyone. And what is worse, there was no imme- 
diate means of putting factories and cinemas in order. Hence 
pictures and equipment continued to be imported from abroad, 
with the result that the dark shadow of Hollywood grew larger 
and larger. By a stroke of irony, the country that had thrown 
off the capitalist yoke, was becoming yoked more and more to 
capitalist Hollywood. 

However, a counter-attack was developing. By hook or 
by crook the Bolshevist authorities contrived to feed the picture- 
hungry people with a very excellent supply of News Gazette 
pictures. All significant current events were caught on the hop 
and flashed on the screen to put the breath of the new life into 
the mass. One of the sights of Moscow used to be the immense 
number of still pictures publicly exhibited all over that city por- 
traying the tribulations and joys of Defence, Denial and 
Deliverance as expressed by current events. 

About 1923 a ray or two of sunshine broke through the 



332 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

cloud of wreckage. The first positive sign of the re-organisa- 
tion and reconstruction of the Russian Picture Industry was the 
production of the first important Government picture on a fairly 
large scale. This first-born was Polikushka and with it was 
born the Bolshevist Picture Industry, not as it is to-day, wholly 
shaped by the unifying principle, but to some extent a part of 
Hollywood. 

But for the country of its birth, Polikushka might have 
been regarded as a Hollywood production. It was an adapta- 
tion of a story by Tolstoi dealing with social conditions in 
Russia ioo years ago. But the fact that it was made in Moscow 
where the blood-shedders lived was sufficient to give it the ap- 
pearance of a revolutionary bogey of the utmost magnitude, one 
calculated to frighten all peace-lovers to death. Once when 
I arrived in Berlin from Moscow I was shown this terrifying 
picture secretly in a little sealed projection room. At the end 
of the performance I asked for a reel to take to England. ' To 
England," they said in terror, " why, you will be assassinated." 
" I don't care," I replied recklessly. " Such strange things have 
always happened to me whenever I left Moscow, that I have 
grown indifferent." I continued, " On one occasion when I 
arrived in Paris the French police were so impressed by the news 
that I had come direct from Moscow, that they put me in 
quarantine for a month." The Berlin Bolshevists gave me a 
dozen large still pictures to bring to England, and I still live. 

The importance of national production of pictures and 
equipment was recognised from the outset, as well as the need 
of the construction of larger and better equipped factories and 
cinemas, and of the production of cinema equipment and home- 
made pictures in Russian plants. As a result every effort was 
made to meet that need and a gradual improvement set in, and 
this in spite of almost insuperable economic difficulties. Among 
the first achievements was the production of the " Goz " and 
" Pomp " installations and an advance in illumination equip- 
ment for factories. 



THE SOLUTION 333 

In the course of two or three years a fairly large number 
of pictures were produced with the intention of satisfying the 
demand of the new population of workers for light on the situa- 
tion produced by the Revolution and after events, of keeping up 
their aggressive spirit, stimulating their constructive activities, 
and of warning them against backsliding. 

Examination of these early pictures reveals the fact that the 
Bolshevist producers spoke in the language of Hollywood. The 
narrow plots, the definite groups of actors, the hustled action, 
revealed plainly enough the influence of Hollywood exerted, 
no doubt, through those Western and the detective pictures 
with which the new Russia was, at one time, flooded. Thus 
one saw the causative theme of liberation through class- 
struggle linked with an action belonging to a causative theme 
of an entirely different character. It was the spirit of the New 
Russia associated with the action of Western American and 
Chicago stories as exploited by Hollywood's Film Kings. A 
very good example may be found in " Dety Boory " a chronicle 
play which portrays the exacting events preceding and leading 
up to the November Revolution. The plot is a thin one, the 
old old story of a lover (young revolutionist) and his lass (the 
Revolution), and an obstacle to be overcome (Tsarist anti-revolu- 
tionists). Upon this plot is hung a long sequence of exciting 
and hair raising events in true Western-cum-detective fashion. 
By the wild hustled action the audience is wrought up to an 
intense degree of interest in the fate or triumph of the little 
group of actors. The whole thing is Marxian plot and Holly- 
wood action. 

The first type of picture illustrated the early struggle 
between the Mass and Destiny (as embodied by the Tsarist 
regime). It reconstructed the history of the struggle in order 
to enlighten and instruct the young revolutionary workers, 
soldiers, sailors and peasants, and to prepare them for the task 
of rebuilding Russia. It portrayed the events of the history 
of the first years of the Labour movement in Russia (" Steven 

24 



334 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Khalturm "); those of the Decembrist revolt (" The Decem- 
brists " and " The Union of a Great House "). 

The second type of picture made its appearance in 
" Potemkin." This type also illustrated the struggle between 
the Mass and Destiny (as embodied by the Tsarist regime), and 
reconstructed the history of the struggle mainly for the instruc- 
tion of the young bolshevists who were expected to behave as 
good Marxians. In these respects it resembled such pictures 
as "Palace and Fortress," "The Wings of a Slave," "Ivan 
the Terrible," " The 9 th of January," " His Excellency," " The 
Fall of the Dynasty of the Romanovs," and so on. But it 
differed from them in speaking in the language of the Bol- 
shevist spirit, one might say the heroic language of the Greek 
" Laocoon." Its causative theme was the rather hackneyed one 
of liberation through class-struggle. But its plot or story and 
action grew out of the theme and did not rest on Hollywood 
tradition, the old theatrical tradition which together with com- 
mercialism, have been largely responsible for the lack of proper 
development of the Cinema in America and Western Europe. 
Eisenstein the producer chose his class-struggle theme like the 
fierce Marxian that he is. He placed it on board a cruiser and 
he allowed it to work itself out not by means of a little specialised 
group of players, a body of individual heroes, but by a mass im- 
personating the principle of Good. This mass he set in action 
against a number of characters impersonating the principle of 
Evil (that is, the representatives of the Tsarist regime). The 
plot was worked out by dividing the mass into groups symbolis- 
ing the emotions of the struggle, tyranny, revulsion (caused by 
the maggoty meat), fear (the crowd pursued by the murderous 
cossacks), courage, defiance, desperation, revenge (the throwing 
overboard of the officers) and the rest. In short, this picture 
spoke in the symbolical language of the struggle between the 
Mass and Destiny, and it marked a break with Hollywood tradi- 
tion. That it exerted a formative influence must be clear to 
anyone who examines the productions by Pudovkin (" Mother "), 



THE SOLUTION 335 

Dziga Vertov (" Eleven "), (" The Shanghai Document "), 
Dovjenko and Turin (" Turk Sib "). 

" Turk Sib " though revealing traces of the influence of 
" Potemkin is a different type of picture. It is the third dis- 
tinct type of picture produced by Bolshevist Russia since the in- 
auguration of the new national policy in 1919. It was first ex- 
hibited in Russia in 1929 where it was accepted by the best 
judges as the finest picture of the season, and one that marked 
the beginning of a new and remarkable stage in picture pro- 
duction in that country. It belongs to the social-economic 
species of plays and pictures now being called forth by the Five 
Years Reconstruction Plan, and is strongly influenced by the 
constructive spirit. It aims to illustrate the heroic struggle 
between Man (as Producer) and Nature (as Laocoon-like Des- 
tiny). Its causative theme is liberation — no longer through class- 
struggle, but through the conquest of Nature. It tells the story 
of the highly sensational fight between a railway that sought 
to get itself laid across the wild Siberian wastes, and the terrible 
forces of Nature. The story deals with the present construc- 
tion of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway which when complete 
in 193 1 will connect Siberia with Kasakstan, covering a distance 
of 1,500 kilometres (a kilometre is 1,093*633 yards). Its pur- 
pose is to enable grain and wool to be transported through the 
deserts and steppes, thus opening up vast areas for corn and 
cotton cultivation. It will thus be a powerful means of economic 
development of the Bolshevist East. Thus social and economic 
organisation takes the screen. The action is centred in the 
combat between the ever penetrating Steel Road and Storm and 
Wilds. And the Steel Road is the protagonist, just as the Mass 
is in " Potemkin.' ' 

The cinema unbound, that is the meaning of 
' Turk Sib." The picture strikes a revolutionary note, revolu- 
tionary that is, in the sense of a turning-point in Cinema history. 
The introduction of the Talkie is said to be a " revolution " 
because it brought into practical use a principle of power, con- 



336 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

tained in a mechanical toy called a microphone, hitherto unused 
by the Cinema, which has had the effect of changing the theory 
and practice of picture production, distribution, exchange and 
consumption. The introduction of the colossal subject of the 
rebuilding of a country that forms a sixth part of the habitable 
globe is likewise a " revolution " because it brings into practical 
use a principle of power contained in the human and social 
subject never before utilised either by the Theatre or the Cinema. 
By the exercise of this power the Cinema can attain undreamed 
of heights and depths of significant expression. It is no longer 
bound to the filth of the world by lack of means to express any- 
thing finer. It has found wings in the subject-power. The 
subject-power is the supreme power in the Cinema. The 
mechanical-power is merely the dice in the hands of desperate 
gamblers. It is the last resort of the degraded cinema that 
finds itself ever in the position of having to pass from crisis to 
crisis by mechanical devices with no alternative but starvation. 
Such devices are brought into use not inevitably by the law of 
human necessity operating upon the Cinema and all that therein 
is, and asserting itself in continuous transformation, but by the 
demands of frenzied and sometimes criminal speculation 
whereby the giant gold-getters and plungers of the cinema world 
continue to live and grow rich. 

The possibilities of natural growth and the fulfilment of 
human function conferred upon the Cinema by this subject- 
power are infinite. We have only to look at the comparatively 
crude application of the principle of subject-power to 
" Turk Sib " to understand that the fullest application demands 
that the mode of construction of the moving picture shall 
undergo an immense formative change. That the camera, the 
film, the projector, the screen, the cinema architecture, must in- 
evitably be influenced by the new uses to which they shall be 
put. " Turk Sib " is the death-knell of the small " film," it is 
the call to live men of the Cinema to search for a new 
type of picture and new means of raising that picture to 




^ "£ « 

•o^ rt P 3 

o +J O Vh -o 

T3 tii <+H 

c ° 



ed 



o o -a 



c 

-t-> c« 

O 3 

P 9> £ <u 2 



■s?gj 



O .„ i_i .„ 

" ■" S< f" 
^ «u CX. 

^ is 
V.&15 6 

<U v U C l> 

*- o j a 
Qq £x >^ 

^ Pf*^ © 

■a 8.s|-a 

• 2 « £ o § 
A a_£ * c 

^ en 



S Sg a 

•s 2 <» 



a 1 8 

<u " o a 



2 £ P 
£ C > 

N W — tJ 

^ a 3 - 



«.2 



THE SOLUTION 337 

the highest level of interpretation and representation. More- 
over it is a prophesy of reconciliation between the Cinema 
and Theatre. It promises that the Cinema shall collaborate with 
the Theatre in the near future, by sharing the task of reflecting 
the great struggle now in progress in all countries for economic 
recovery, for the destruction of the old economic Evil and the 
construction of the new economic Good; in the distant future 
by reflecting the " spiritual " outcome of that struggle. 

According to the covenant between them, the Theatre shall 
reflect the more intimate facts of the struggle, while the Cinema 
shall reflect the transformation effected by Labour-power 
applied on a vast scale to Nature with the aid of science, 
engineering, electricity and oil. The Cinema will in fact relieve 
the Theatre of responsibilities of expression, which, more than 
all else, have destroyed its likeness to a Temple of God. Or as 
materialists say to-day, God in Man. 

Everything considered, the Russian Cinema Industry under 
the control of the Bolshevist Government, has made remarkable 
progress since it was first organised in 1922. The facts and 
figures would make a very large book of statistics. Only a 
few can be given here. Important supplementary facts are con- 
tained in my book on the Russian Theatre and Cinema published 
in 1929, by Brentano. Two causes of the progress should be 
noted. The first and foremost is the social-cultural one, — the 
recognition that the Cinema has a great social function to fulfil 
for the Russian people. The second and subordinate, is an 
economic one, — the need of the utilisation of the Picture In- 
dustry to produce money for reconstruction purpose. They 
have been kept separated. Pictures for home consumption have 
been made to satisfy the demands of national unity, reconstruc- 
tion and recovery. Those for foreign consumption, to satisfy 
a demand for commodities made for profit. 

Production. The Cinema production in Bolshevist Russia 
is directly and indirectly in the hands of the Government. It 
is concentrated in three organisations, — Sovkino, Mejhrabpom 



338 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

and Gosvcenkino. In addition, each of the large national re- 
publics has one State Cinema Producing Organisation, — the All 
Ukranian Photo Kino Administration, Belgoskino, Goskinprom 
of Georgia, Armenkino and Chuvashkino. In 1929, a new 
stock company, the Vastokkino (Orient Kino) was organised. 
Sovkino has three large factories, two in Moscow and one in 
Leningrad. The quality of its productions may be gathered 
from the following pictures " Potemkin," " October," " The 
General Line," " The Sixth Part of the World " (Vertov), " The 
Fall of the Dynasty of the Romanovs," " The Harbour of 
Death " (Room), and " The Shanghai Document." The 
Mejhrabpom was destroyed by fire in 1926, but has since re- 
covered and is known by such pictures as " Mother," " The 
End of St. Petersburg," and " Storm Clouds Over Asia." 

Studios and Plants. Large and well-equipped factories 
have been erected, and are being erected at a fairly rapid rate. 
Moscow is developing a Hollywood of its own in the form of a 
cinema town. It is divided into two parts, one for the factory 
buildings, the other for the auxiliary buildings, administrative, 
laboratories, storehouses, etc. The enormous main building 
looks like a mammoth aeroplane at rest. It has a head and a 
tail, but is without a propeller. The shape means that the con- 
struction is influenced by the fashionable theory of functional 
architecture. Kiev possesses a very large factory. The chief 
studio admits of the filming of 15 pictures simultaneously. It 
is equipped with the latest machinery, and contains 380 lighting 
units which provides illumination for 10 producing groups work- 
ing at one time. The current for the lighting equipment is 
provided by a special electric station of the factory with 12,000 
amperes. 1 Developments are also taking place in Georgia under 
the direction of the Goskinprom, a stock corporation founded 

1 These figures were obtained from official sources in Moscow. They 
do not agree with those of Mr. Ivor Montagu (" Times Film Number," 
March 19, 1929). He gives 19,000 amperes. In one place he is guided by 
Moussinac, the French cinema critic of " Monde." 




.2 TO al£ 

li <+h CO TT • « 

■^ ^ X o -^ 

^ sj ^ 2-z 

Z^ CO C t -^ 

pH CO OhRI 

JH 5 « ^ 

£ o e C • 

t -1 J2 C <u eo 

. co i-i O •" 



c o 



B m : 






+j qj ~^ ._ . — i 

co _c ^ .b o 

• - w w g.t; 

r. CO q i_ 

w^.s co _, 

n r! C 

-t-> ^3 -*- 1 <-> 

>> O §3 a 

73 £3 

^ «.« 2 3 

D ^ £ <u 

co ■*-• *-> ^ r; 

O +-> CO -* T3 

>> O co -C 



i -rt -C 



3C~C u 



<u 2 P h d 

-M - CO >< 

,SJ3 o « g 

^ £ +3 s >* 

S <u B u w 

1-53=8 'S 

a, £ w o 
2 3 ^- & 



.22 co.y 



<U In 
C 3J 
« 22 - 

M -^ o tJ £ ^ 
S3 3 £\SE o 
•S S 3 3 oj~ 

<-c3<H — 
■ S S S^g 

sO -° co O •- < •« 
N CO C "3 > 

<J\ ID 3 cJJ 

M g V w o ° 

^ -_i CO co «, 

to co o G..t; 



THE SOLUTION 339 

by the largest industrial and financial organisation in the 
Caucasus. Its annual output at Tiflis is about 15 pictures. 

Workers. There are 35,000 workers employed in the 
Russian Cinema Industry. It is calculated that this number will 
be increased to 100,000 under the Five Years Plan. 

Distribution and Exchange. The monopoly of distribut- 
ing films in Bolshevist Russia belongs to Sovkino. In 1928, 
concessions were made to Mejhrabpom chiefly in the matter of 
the distribution of cultural pictures. The distribution policy of 
Sovkino during recent years has been in the direction of 
rationalising its distribution upon fixed principles and supplying 
the market with necessary programmes and in increasing the 
number of consumers. The distribution of pictures to Labour 
Clubs is effected by an arrangement between Sovkino and the 
All Russian Central Council of Labour Union, according to 
which clubs receive a programme at an average cost of 16 
roubles, 32/-. Villages receive their supplies through approxim- 
ately 1,900 travelling cinemas. It will be gathered that the 
broad principle of distribution applied in Russia is that of the 
direct supply of commodities from the factory to the consumer, 
thus doing without the middleman and his profits. The 
machinery of distribution consists of Government and other 
departments, labour and social organisations, associations of cine- 
matography, and other distributing agencies. Outside Russia 
there are large selling and distributing agencies in America, 
Germany, and rudimentary ones in London. 

Consumption. The number of cinema units is approxim- 
ately 7,000, with an estimated increase to 40,000 under the Five 
Years Plan. The number of yearly attendances is 228,200,000,000 
with an increase to 896,600,000,000. The largest increase is ex- 
pected in the rural branch of the cinema system; the smallest, 
about 42 p.c. in the city commercial branch. Cinemas vary in 
seating capacity, in Moscow and Leningrad from 200 to 2,000 
seats. Clubs accommodate about 600 persons. Prices in com- 



340 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

mercial cinemas vary from 6d. to 3/-, in rural districts from 
2d. to 6d. 

Training and Cinema Literature. All that remains to 
be said is that interest in the Cinema and its true function 
is being promoted by every possible means. A large number 
of training schools have been established in which students are 
instructed in every branch of the Cinema Industry, and taught 
to understand the basic principle of the system of picture pro- 
duction designed to enable the Cinema to take a direct and 
active part in the great business of rebuilding the nation. The 
first of these schools was established as far back as 1919, which 
together with the influence of the new theories of theatrical 
representation, largely accounts for the emergence of an extra- 
ordinary body of creative producers all fully equipped to under- 
take the task of shaping the Cinema to serve the people. The 
interests of the Cinema is also kept well to the front by the 
enormous output of cinema literature covering all sides of a 
subject that now occupies the attention of civilised peoples. 
Books by the most skilful hands including those of leading 
producers, Pudovkin, Kuleshov, and authorities like Timo- 
shenko, Vasiliev, Schneider, Boltanski, Bushkin and others, pour 
from the press. Two booklets on the Talkie — " The Talking 
Movie " and " The End of the Silent Cinema," have made their 
appearance to show that the new menace is receiving attention. 
Considerable space is taken up in the Press — newspapers, 
journals and magazines — with questions, problems and activities 
of the Cinema. 

The Talkie. Very little has been done in this direction 
beyond experiment. The problem of constructing equipment 
for a Talkie Cinema was first attacked in 1926. Principles were 
tested. Then came the construction of a large laboratory and 
of models of Talkie apparatus, experiments and applications are 
proceeding. Beyond this there is the heated discussion of the 
possibilities of the Talkie in relation to the probable development 



THE SOLUTION 34 r 

of the vast picture. Turin, the producer of " Turk Sib,'* 
favours sound. Other leading producers, Pudovkin, Eisenstein, 
Vertov, are doubtful whether the Talkie comes into the region 
of something they term " Art." 

Does not all this amazing activity and advance justify the 
belief that to-day Russia is the White Hope of the Cinema 
World? 



PART V 



FULFILMENT: THE CINEMA OF ASPIRATION 



CHAPTER XI 

ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 

Let me repeat that by the New Spirit I mean the old or original 
good purpose in the Cinema which has remained there and 
has exerted an influence from time to time, but has never been 
intentionally expressed. Perhaps my meaning would be plainer 
if for good purpose I substitute good subject. The good sub- 
ject has never been more than an accidental influence. Pro- 
ducers have so ignored it that it may be called a negative 
influence. It has made itself felt in spite of producers, and 
because the common folk has made itself felt. The audience, 
wishing for relief, or consolation, or renewed strength, has 
really been the picture — a picture created by the desire of the 
audience to confer these and other feelings and qualities on 
itself. The producer's subject, as it is generally known, has 
exerted a positive influence on its physical home, the Cinema. 

The history of the Cinema shows that the practitioners 
have, to the present, been mainly occupied with the physical 
home and its mechanical equipment. They have striven, year 
in and year out, after a perfect commercial shape into which 
they can fit a commercial subject and the largest body of enter- 
tainment investors known as the audience. Hitherto their rule 
has been, take care of the Picture Palace and the subject will 
take care of itself. Now has come a change which is likely to 
cause the rule to read, take care of the subject and the Picture 
Palace will take care of itself. 

There is an urgent need of the organisation of the New 
Spirit, or let me say, New Subject. Need, that is, of a vision, 
a policy, a method, that shall enable the Picture Industry of this 

345 



346 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

country to realise to the full the potentialities of Subject-Power. 

Let me summarise what we have got. 

Mechanical Power. We have got American mechanical 
power. At an early period of the history of the Cinema, 
American moving-picture merchants, commercial magnates, 
and other business men, pooled their brains and resources and 
together began to produce pictures of a good quality. About 
1916, owing to the effect of the War on England, to tiieir 
superior organisation and better quality pictures, they were able 
to dominate the English picture market, with the result that 
90 per cent of the pictures exhibited in this country were 
American. The conclusion of the War found America's posi- 
tion unchallenged. Hollywood was supreme by reason of its 
mighty organisation, its recognition that Commerce was the 
royal road to success, and that business science was the basis of 
successful trading, whether in moving pictures or in any other 
commodity. It found, on the other hand, the Picture Produc- 
tion Industry in this country in an impoverished and most 
deplorable condition. Men and machinery were fit for little 
else than the scrap heap. Exception may be made in the case 
of three or four producers who, urged on by patriotic motives, 
contrived to make some home pictures of real merit under the 
most disheartening difficulties. 

The American Picture Production organisation continued 
to gain in strength and power till it became the eighth wonder 
of the world, and perhaps the first marvel of the universe of 
Commerce. In 1926 the perpetual nightmare of 90 per cent of 
American pictures overflowing this country appears to have 
touched the business conscience of the men in high places, 
either that or the big success that had attended the application 
of the German Kontingent Law in 1922 served to rouse our 
picture merchants and their friends in Parliament to definite 
action. In any case, in 1927 came the Quota Act to awaken 
high hopes of the establishment of a national Picture Industry 
on the widest and soundest foundations. But the most powerful 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 347 

commercial organisation ever known to man had still to be 
reckoned with. Beside it our protective legislative measure com- 
pelling a quota of English pictures, from 5 to y l / 2 per cent of 
the pictures shown and distributed in the first year, with a rising 
percentage during the following eight years until the maximum 
of 20 per cent is reached, appeared contemptible indeed. Sub- 
sequent events proved the strength and power of the American 
money production organisation and the absence even of the 
semblance of a contending organisation of our own. They proved 
indeed that America had our representatives of the silent picture 
world at its feet, and England might hope to look up in twenty 
years or thereabout. 

The fact is that England planned to beat America at its 
own game by starting where America began thirty years ago. 
Could anything be more stupid? 

No one of its picture merchants and shopkeepers appeared 
to recognise that the only means whereby it could reasonably 
hope to beat America was a complete change of direction 
amounting to a revolution. It must meet America not on its 
own ground, not with its old commercial weapons, but with 
a new principle of power, one that the mighty American Com- 
mercial Picture Production Organisation could not forsee and 
was not adapted to bring into practical use. 

But apparently the presence in the Camera and Cinema 
of unutilised principles of power never dawned upon English 
Cinema business men. For while they were still engaged 
putting Quota to unlawful purposes for the sake of obtaining 
financial backing, America not only leaped upon them with a 
new principle of power but actually got a year ahead with it 
before they had fully realised what had happened. Then sud- 
denly they discovered that America had unwittingly given them 
a strong mechanical advantage, In exploiting the " Talkie " 
it had handed them the power of the English voice. The Eng- 
lish voice is a saleable commodity of which, as the Americans 
themselves admit, this country has an unlimited supply, and as 



348 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

such it is calculated to put money in the English Picture Pro- 
duction merchants' purse. But the English voice is not going 
to put the English Picture Industry permanently and securely on 
its feet, or on the world's market. The making of the voice 
fit for the microphone is not a protected trade. America may 
speak through the nose and make funny noises in the throat, 
but it will very soon learn how to manufacture voices to suit the 
universal appetite, and before long will be in the position to 
set the fashions in both male and female voices much as it set 
the fashions in Beauty Queens and Matchless Heroes in the past. 

To-day the Talkie is the White Hope of England's Picture 
Industry. But where is it leading the Industry? "The 
talkies are getting better not as subjects, but as pure mechanics." 1 
" On the mechanical side the industry is moving rapidly. New 
methods of production and exhibition develop every day. The 
wide screen, the wide angle film, colour stereoscopy and improved 
sound method press close upon one another. But on the in- 
tellectual and imaginative side the cinema is at a standstill." 2 
"" Britain at the moment is undoubtedly copying; you can see it 
in every British production. Tricks which are antiquated both 
in American and German productions are being used, and not 
always to the best advantage. Ten years ago, de Mille set the 
fashion for cabaret scenes, and during the past year (1928), I 
should think more than 60 per cent of British productions have 
included at least one cabaret scene in each production, whether 
it was wanted or not." 3 

This means that the Talkie is luring the English producers 
into a dangerous sense of mechanical security that promises well 
for the continuation of American domination. The real White 
Hope is something quite different from the Talkie. 

There is a principle of power waiting to be brought into 
practical use, which the English Picture Industry can bring into 
practical use, and which, when brought into practical use by the 

1 Hannen Swaffer, in The Daily Express, April 2, 1930. 

2 C.A.L., in The Observer, March 30, 1930. 

3 Victor Sheridan, in The Observer, January 27, 1929. 



o 


J.J, 


' ■_,{,' J * 


— 1 I Ml ; 

MB jf r p/ 


■■■b* ^ ' * : 






•- V ! 




;,$;.,>;;.;-,, . ' ,,"< '' 


" 








° ° s 



»-i -> o ca a> 

O •- £ o ~^ 

■M-sl" 



■» oj..a <u <u 



e 

fci * * s = 

^. (1) 3 <u u 

»| ?| s 






2 o 
3S 






o 
13 £ 



U CO 

8.2 c 

D n] U 
O o H- 1 d> 
*-• O /n -£ 

a «> « a. 



<u 



a> «u O 






C <+H 

o a 



u \p 






o 03 jjj: 



~ g 



ON 

a g 



be — 



G b"2 

3 +-00 

O C « 

be £ 



O P ^ 03 j_ ^ 



> C « « 

° 2 o * 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 349 

English Picture Industry, will enable that Industry to compete, 
and compete successfully , for world cinema supremacy. The 
power to which I allude is Subject-power. 

That is what we want. A power to be brought into 
practical use that has never before been utilised in the Cinema 
in this country. 

Before I describe this power, let me picture the kind of 
organisation that opposes this country, and summarise the 
present proposals for meeting that opposition and transforming 
the English Picture Industry from a subject to a ruling one. 
Proposals, that is, for placing the Industry on a national and 
independent basis. 

The Cinema City of Commerce. I have analysed this 
city. I have shown that it is world-wide in its operations and 
compactly built, and that Hollywood is its Mammonised centre. 
That Hollywood is a vast money production industry in keeping 
with the Financial spirit of the age. That in the beginning there 
were a few picture-makers, shopkeepers and showmen. That 
in due course there came the big manufacturers, the big shop- 
keepers and the merchant speculators imbued with the spirit of 
business enterprise and gain. That they went beyond the little 
makers and shopkeepers by the simple process of addition, called 
amalgamation, and came to recognise that the building which 
was to house their business must be commercially functional, 
unified and universal. That then there acrose, stage by stage, 
the great cinema factory and department store which had 
foundations of solid gold, and from then till now it has con- 
tinued to grow and develop in every direction, spreading like 
the green bay tree in the Psalms, and so has come to dominate 
the vast world of commercial entertainment. And but for one 
thing, no man could see its final size and form, or say where it 
would stop. But for one thing, no one who knows the astound- 
ing ramifications of this rock-like commercial structure could 
feel that its highest point of business achievement had been 
reached. But for one thing, no one could reasonably disbelieve 

25 



350 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the boast of the builders that the road to perfection was still the 
biggest road for them, and all they had done in the past is 
but a grain of sand upon the seashore of their endeavour. 

In this vast receptacle are placed billions of pounds of raw 
material, — natural, vital and human, — purchased in the novelty 
markets of the world, to be converted into entertainment or 
box office value, that is, practically, no real value at all. Show- 
ing no advance, only a falling curve checked here and there 
by mechanical innovation. 

That to the casual eye is the past and present of Holly- 
wood. It is a description of a mechanical world produced to 
swallow up all rival worlds. Of a vast building of buildings 
designed with the highest quality of the merchant-organisers' 
skill and planned down to the minutest detail by men who are 
veritable masters of the commercial cinema business itself. No 
one who contemplates this enormous building filled with 
machinery every section made for the purpose for which it is 
intended — picture production, distribution, exchange, consump- 
tion on the vastest scale — each piece representing thought for 
the greatest economy and efficiency, the most profitable output, 
and embodying every new device; no one who has studied this 
mammoth machine representing unequalled business organisa- 
tion and resting on the incalculable resources of Finance Capital, 
would dream of doubting its power to reign supreme and 
to continue to hold its rivals in subjection by the sheer might 
of its unequalled business organisation, — but for one thing — 
and that thing? The Mechanical Peril. 

This greatest and completest commercial organisation, this 
mammoth world-conquering machinery built apparently on an 
impregnable foundation of solid gold, rests in reality on shifting 
sands. Throughout, its builders, the practical Film Kings, have 
sought to attain and maintain commercial supremacy by bring- 
ing into practical use forms of power contained in mechanical 
toys never before utilised. In the Talkie they hailed deliriously 
the successful practical application of a new element, a new 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 351 

principle for which scientists and mechanicians had long been 
searching. To them standing on the verge of bankruptcy it 
brought a new lease of commercial life. This is but one instance 
of many of how mechanics has intervened to save their life. 
Such salvation means that mechanically they stand ever in peril 
of death. Already the sands are beginning to shift. 

But those who should reap the greatest advantage from 
the Mechanical Peril with which the Americans are faced have 
no eyes to see the Peril. Indeed it is a difficulty which threatens 
to engulf them also. 

Still for the moment the mighty American Commercial 
Machine is in full blast and by all accounts, it is rapidly over- 
coming the set-back which it experienced through restrictive 
legislation in foreign countries, and the limitations imposed by 
the Talkie on its universal trade. 

' The development and spread of talking films enable the 
American film industry to counterbalance the adverse effect on 
the industry caused by the extension of restrictive legislation on 
the import of American films in the leading European countries. 

" Revenue from the import of films into the United King- 
dom, New Zealand, and Australia showed an increase in 1929 
far exceeding that of 1928. This increase considerably out- 
weighs any losses from certain Continental countries where the 
distribution of American films was curtailed. 

" Positive exports for 1929 amounted to 273,772,283ft., with 
a value of ^1,300,340, as against 214,410,785ft., valued at 
^1,050,620 in 1928. 

" The increase is chiefly due to the demand for sound and 
talking pictures. 

" During 1929, 110,031,551ft. of American films with a value 
of £668,100 were shown on the screens of Europe as against 
69,998,393ft. valued at ,£535,471 in 1928. Four of the ten lead- 
ing individual markets of the world are : the United Kingdom, 
France, Germany, and Spain. 

' With two English-speaking nations in the Far East, 



352 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Australia and New Zealand, exports of American pictures to 
this region have increased more than 8,ooo,oooft. during the past 
year. 

" Canada practically doubled her imports of American 
films during the year, and Africa showed an increase of 
2,000,000ft. of film in 1929. — B.U.P." 1 

This huge increase of the American export of pictures is 
evidence of the further triumph of the artificial method of 
keeping the commercial cinema going by a series of carefully- 
calculated gambles in mechanical toys and devices that attract 
public attention by novelty alone. This method cannot be con- 
tinued indefinitely. 

What proposals have been made in England for establish- 
ing a Picture Production Industry of national importance ? One 
that shall express national life and labour, shall counteract 
harmful foreign influences, shall completely check the Ameri- 
canisation of the English industry, and shall substitute a lasting 
principle of power for the ephemeral mechanical one by which 
America can maintain its stranglehold on the Picture Industry 
of this country. 

Now let me ask, what is being said and done to take 
the English Picture Industry out of the rut of mere slavish 
imitation and to place it on such a creative basis as will restore 
public confidence in its ability to stand alone as a truly national 
concern asserting itself as a factor of national economic prosperity 
and exerting the widest and strongest influence on the spiritual 
health and welfare of the nation; and by restoring confidence, 
inviting and winning the co-operation of all classes in the 
essential task of making the English cinema an organic part 
of the great body of the plain people itself. 

Within the past eighteen months, or since the arrival of 
the Talkie in this country, much matter has appeared in the 
newspaper Press containing proposals to give the English 
Picture Industry an opportunity to escape from Hollywood, to 

1 The Sunday Referee, March 30, 1930. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 353 

enlarge its national horizon, to make it a little more dignified 
and self-respecting than it has been. I have sought to obtain 
confirmation of the published proposals, and fuller information 
from those who have expressed them, but without success. The 
columns of a great newspaper are a magnet that no self-adver- 
tising person can resist; the pages of a book are apt to be a 
ledger that the self -advertising person would avoid. I remem- 
ber writing to the secretary of a cinema institution) established 
for the express purpose of disseminating cinema information) 
who had spread himself out in the news columns of the Press. 
My request for verification was met by a silent refusal in the 
shape of a printed circular asking me to become a member 
of the institution and to pay a heavy fee. I remember writing 
to Mr. Charles Cochran for particulars of his " Dictatorship " 
proposal with which as an experienced journalist he had salted 
the Press. The reply came, Mr. Cochran is sorry, but he has 
just chartered the largest Atlantic liner to convey him to 
America, where he intends to engage in his favourite hobbies, 
purchasing Stars and collecting restaurant menus. Or words 
to that effect. 

So I will quote the Press news articles. 

1. The Museum Idea. Proposal. To establish a 
" National Film Museum." 1 Is referred to also as " The 
^50,000 Cinema Library Plan." 2 " A National Gallery of 
Films." 3 A museum for preserving and exhibiting national 
pictures, and containing a library for works on the subject of 
cinematography, and a central bureau of information. Where, 
one presumes, information could be got for the asking. 

" The great Austrian National Library in Vienna will 
shortly open a film museum. Some 15,000 pictures and 500 
posters of prominent films have been collected." 4 

1 See Observer, February 24, 1929, and September 11, 1929. 

2 See Daily Chronicle, October 31, 1929, and November 23, 1928. 

3 Morning Post Scheme, Morning Post, September 11, 1928. 
* Observer, January 12, 1930. 



354 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

M. Leon Moussinac, the well-known French cinema 
critic, has put forward a proposal for " the creation and 
organisation of a cinema library." He classifies the depart- 
ments as follows: i, History; 2, Esthetic; 3, Technique; 4, 
Criticism; 5, Documentary; 6, General Information; 7, Legal; 
8, Production and Exploitation; 9, State; 10, Miscellaneous. 
He analyses each department. 1 

Criticism and suggestion. The word " museum " is 
a bad one. It suggests fossils, fragments, cobwebs, strange 
creatures in skull-caps, with parchment faces and colds in their 
noses. It is a word that has been known to send happy people 
into a state of static melancholia. Further, the proposal is not 
comprehensive enough. A year or two before the War I drew 
up on behalf of the Sociological Society an outline scheme for 
a Civic Museum for London. 2 It was designed to afford a 
survey of London in the past, present, and possible by means 
of every kind of illustrative material arranged systematically 
in galleries and descending from the roof to the floor in the 
order of the natural, vital, human sciences. The ground floor 
was to be occupied by a contour map and bureaus serving to 
index all the known literature on London contained in the 
libraries of the world. This London building was intended to 
serve as a model for similar buildings in the cities and towns 
of the United Kingdom. As soon as I had completed my 
scheme and put the architectural plans on paper, I set out to 
submit them to every scientist and thinker of note in the king- 
dom, from Professor J. Arthur Thomson at Aberdeen to an 
equally eminent scientist at Land's End. In this I was assisted 
by my friend Professor Patrick Geddes, England's creative 
sociologist, who provided me with letters of introduction. The 
scheme attracted considerable attention by reason of its com- 
prehensiveness, its magnitude, its analysis and synthesis of the 
life and labour of a great city in the past, present and possible, 

1 " Monde " (Paris), Number 34, January 28, 1929. 

2 See Sociological Papers, Vol. 1. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 355 

in short its outlook on the activities and organisation of a com- 
munity and its environment, and the direction it was capable 
of giving to thought and action. It received only one criticism. 
Everyone objected to the name " museum." It was by way of 
being realised when the War came. 

The Cinema world needs a House of Vision, or Outlook 
Tower of the kind. 

2. Amalgamations and Leagues. Proposals for uniting 
English and Continental business interests, " the creation of a 
European motion picture industry with Britain at its head "; 
" the establishment of an Empire Marketing Board " to bring 
the various trading parts of " the British Empire " together; the 
formation of " A European Motion Picture Confederation " and 
for the realisation of " a United Screen States of Europe, co- 
operating in the production, distribution and exhibition of 
motion pictures, and by this means selling the various nations 
to each other and to the world." 1 Such proposals and others 
are of daily occurrence. They suggest that there is a general 
reaching out for strength in unity. 

3. Dictatorship. Proposal. That there shall be a chief 
or head of the whole Picture Industry in England. " What I 
feel the industry wants is the grouping together of all these 
interests in production. It requires a Mussolini at the head of 
it. The industry as it stands is too much divided up." . . . 
" I feel that the British Film Industry wants a Mussolini at the 
head of it — a man with an organised brain who will group 
together the best financial elements . . . who will gather 
together the most brilliant brains for the selection of subjects, 
for casting and production, and for training a new school of 
producers." Thus Mr. Charles B. Cochran in a long interview 
article. 2 In the course of an equally long reply, Mr. Victor 
Sheridan took the opposite view, namely, that what the Industry 
needs is individuality. 

1 See Evening Standard, July 23, 1928. 

2 See Observer, January 1, 1929. 



356 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

" Mr. Cochran's view that the state of the British film 
industry demands the consolidation of its interests into one 
powerful group, controlled by a ' Mussolini,' seems to depend 
on an incomplete knowledge of the intricate and varied ramifi- 
cations of the industry, which relies, even more than the 
theatre, on individuality of thought and action. The benefits 
derived from business amalgamations and from unity of control 
are obvious, but they are limited to concerns which deal in 
standardised articles, and cannot be extended to the theatre, 
and particularly to film production, where, of the millions of 
negatives produced in a year, not two inches are duplicated. 

' Those of us whose business it is to see most of the films 
produced realise that British films lack quality through the very 
thing Mr. Cochran suggests, viz., the Mussolini, or, rather, the 
order which generally accompanies a Quota film : ' So many 
pounds may be spent ' — and that is that! " 

Mr. Sheridan proposes "centralisation" in place of "con- 
centration." 1 All Cinema Industry activities to be centralised 
as, say, France is centralised in Paris, and has been since Napo- 
leon's time, to the destruction of the finer life and activities of 
the French people. What is needed is a harmonious blend of 
concentration and centralisation. Regional centralisation only. 
The fault of Mr. Cochran's proposal is that it suggests the wrong 
sort of " dictator." The English Picture Industry does not need 
a cinema Tsar, but a man of vision, of ability to organise both 
spiritually and commercially, to inspire that enthusiasm, to 
beget that quality of judgment, to kindle that spirit of advance 
in others, which alone can secure the fullest expression of the 
genius of the nation whether by the Cinema or any other mighty 
instrument of national and human interpretation, spiritual, 
economic or social. 

Elsewhere Mr. Cochran is seen glancing towards the 
future and perfection. " British producers should forget all the 
stage plays and everything about American Talkies (except best 

1 Observer, January 27, 1929. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 357 

technique) and evolve a new form of entertainment." 1 So as 
to encourage them to aspire towards, and to perspire in 
realising the " new form of entertainment," he exhibited at his 
London Pavilion Theatre the American made picture " The 
Taming of The Shrew." Thus he told our producers, this is 
not the Shakespeare that our English cinema most needs. A 
very timely and delicate hint indeed. 

4. Putting the Spirit of the Nation in English 
Pictures. Proposal. The production of pictures portraying 
English life and labour with ail-English casts. A common 
sight to-day is that of theatrical managers and producers, like 
Mr. Charles Cochran, striving to adjust themselves correctly 
to their cinema focus. To bring themselves as close to the 
Cinema as their national or international, their spiritual or com- 
mercial aspiration and inspiration shall permit. Mr. Cochran's 
approach is through the man of power and purpose at the head 
of affairs. Another approach is through the combination and 
utilisation of the intellectuals and emotionals, directors, 
managers, authors (playwrights and novelists), actors and others, 
whom the Talkie has converted to the view that there is money 
and fame in the Cinema. Perhaps the man most associated 
with this kind of organisation of English theatrical forces for 
the purpose of promoting the present national tendency in the 
English Picture Industry, is Mr. Basil Dean, the theatrical 
manager and play-producer. In 1929 Mr. Dean came forward 
with " Plans to establish the British Industry." How the plans 
were hatched and what they are may be told in the words of a 
dramatic critic, since Mr. Dean's words were not forthcom- 
ing at my request. 

" A score of British authors sat listening for an hour yester- 
day to more talk about the talkies. 

' How was Britain going to fight the new American 
monopoly ? ' ' Where were they going to sell their novels and 
their plays ? ' ' What was the future of the theatre ? ' 

1 " Cinema," January 1, 1930. 



358 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

" All these questions passed through their minds as they 
sat at a luncheon party suddenly summoned by Sir Gerald du 
Maurier and Mr. Basil Dean, two directors of a new all-English 
talkie company formed, with a capital of ^125,000, to put 
Britain on the map. 

: ' The talkie peril was at the door. No, it was inside, 
shouting! How was it to be fought, or turned into an ally? 
"'I remember nothing more dramatic than the situation 
created by the talkies,' said Basil Dean. . . . ' The theatrical 
business may be dying, but not the theatre. . . . When you 
bring dialogue to the screen, you touch the theatre, and that is 
sufficient justification for our existence and this occasion. 

We must protect authors from changes in dialogue. 
We must see that British actors play British parts. We must 
see that the author remains in charge of the picture to protect 
his idea and keep in his own personality. 

" ' It is very important to him that if 20,000,000 people 
see the picture his story shall not be altered to please some 
foreign producer. There is no need for panic. We merely wish 
to give a sense of direction to the turmoil. I am not share- 
pushing.' . . . 

' There were thirty or forty authors in the room . . . 
writers of stories worth at least ^1,000,000 for the talkie rights." 1 
Six months later came the news of a Great New Film 
Move," and one read : 

" Mr. Basil Dean made an announcement of great im- 
portance to British Film production at an extraordinary general 
meeting of Associated Talking Pictures in the Vaudeville 
Theatre yesterday. 

" It was to the effect that this company, which has been 
quiescent since its inauguration last May, has signed a working 
agreement with Radio Keith Orpheum Productions, Inc., of 
America. 

" In the space of a year this United States company, with 

1 Hannen Swaffer, in The Daily Express, May 9, 1929. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 359 

huge financial resources, has leapt to the front in the produc- 
tion of sound films. 

" ' Street Girl,' ' Rio Rita,' and ' Hit the Deck ' are among 
the pictures it has made. 

" Further, R.K.O. is linked up with a big chain of 
theatres, and the present agreement, as stated by Mr. Dean, 
includes a guarantee of world-release for the pictures produced 
by the British company. This is the first time British pictures 
have been offered an outlet on such a scale in the United States. 
' They will be by British authors, will be made in England 
with British actors and American stars if the circumstances 
appear to demand it, and will be what are called ' super- 
feature ' pictures of a size and quality calculated to justify special 
runs. 1 

A start was made later with Mr. John Galsworthy's play 
" Escape." If Mr. Dean wanted the spirit of England, he could 
not look for it in a better place than in the works of such 
eminent writers as Mr. Galsworthy, Mr. Arnold Bennett, Mr. 
H. G. Wells and Mr. Bernard Shaw. All four are sociologists, 
and as such capable of expressing the subject that the Cinema 
should express. But how is he going to conserve that spirit. 
His proposal for rescuing England from the American Octopus 
is made up of two parts. There is the pooling of the best 
English brains; and there is the engagement of a new American 
monster which by all accounts is set on swallowing the whole 
of the cinema activities of the universe. What is to prevent 
it developing its voracious appetite in this country and swallow- 
ing up Mr. Dean and his associates? Or can it be that Mr. 
Dean, while turning the sunny side of his character towards 
the Octopus, is really following Brer Rabbit's plan of lying 
low in order gradually to swallow the Octopus, as some of the 
socialists propose to swallow the capitalists if the reverse does 
not take place. But life is too short a period in which to deceive 
such an all-embracing fish or beast as the Giant American 

1 A. T. Borthwick, in The Daily News, January 10, 1930. 



360 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Octopus. The most Mr. Dean may expect to do is to undeceive 
himself. If English Picture Producers really want to rid this 
country of the Americans, they must cease copying and col- 
laborating with them. They must learn that the New World 
is not on the other side of the Atlantic. It is here, in this 
country, asking creators to dig it out of themselves. 

5. The Multi-Lingual Plan. Proposal to make a 
Talkie picture in different languages on a co-operative basis. 
I was unable to obtain any particulars of this plan from Sir 
Gordon Craig, its originator. He wrote that they had not been 
made public. But I daresay the following extract from a news- 
paper describes it: — 

"It is of the very essence of the Multi-Lingual plan that 
the character of each country is completely preserved. A 
French producer joining in the scheme will give his own version 
of the English scenario. He will introduce into the scenario 
all those elements which Hollywood describes as ' specialist work 
entirely.' He will do so with at least as great success as Holly- 
wood. And having done that he will bring his players to 
London for four or six weeks, after which they will return to 
their stage or film work in France." 1 

6. Quota. Proposal by Sir Gordon Craig to double the 
Quota requirement. More English pictures are being made and 
shown to the trade than meet the requirement. 2 

Such are the proposals to meet the situation produced by 
the revival of the English Picture Industry, and the need of 
overcoming a mighty and well-equipped opponent. 

We read in the Bible that David prevailed over Goliath 
with a sling and with a stone, and smote die Philistine, and 
slew him. From some of the aforegoing proposals it may be 
gathered that David is taking the hand of Goliath and calling 
him brother. From others, that he is attacking him with a 

1 " Spotlight," in The Sunday Referee, February 16, 1930. 

2 Note. See also British Film Production and the Quota Memorandum 
issued by F.B.I., May 13, 1930. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 361 

pea-shooter. Yet all the time David has the stone in his sling 
with which he can slay Goliath. This stone is Subject. 

d. What We Want. Subject-Power. The Cinema as the 
Cathedral of Humanity. There is a growing opinion among 
persons of sense that the Cinema is bankrupt of subject. The men 
of the English Picture Industry are following America's 
mechanical lead in breathless haste. They shout aloud with joy 
each time they see an American mechanical wonder flash out in 
their studios, and they strive ceaselessly to clothe themselves in the 
glory of the knowledge of the right apparatus. But of appre- 
ciation of right subject, of the wonder that should be theirs, 
that shall be theirs, when these sleepers awaken, to carry them 
profitably to the ends of the earth, they show no sign. 
Apparently they are unaware that lurking, not in the apparatus, 
but in the people and their environment, there is a strange 
magic that can be enticed out to give any nation that recognises 
and exercises it the power to set the Cinema expanding in a 
new, creative and human direction, and to make it an organic 
part of the people with a function to fulfil for the people, 
without leaning for support on any foreign nation. 

Bolshevist Russia has just revealed the nature, value and 
the possibilities of the magic. Not long ago (in March, 1930, 
to be precise) there was exhibited in the West End of London 
a Bolshevist picture called " Turk Sib," a production by a 
young Bolshevist, Turin by name. This picture was shown 
by the Atlas Renting Concern, in touch with Moscow and 
formed to sell Russia to the workers of this country by the 
exhibition of its socialist pictures. " Turk Sib " was a revolu- 
tionary picture, but not in the political sense. It marked a 
turning point in the history of the Cinema, and added a new 
weapon to the armoury of Armageddon, challenging the most 
intelligent nation to take it up. 

A large number of persons who saw " Turk Sib " shouted 
gleefully. Even critics who represented anti-Bolshevist news- 
papers, trade and technical journals, applauded and mar- 



362 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

veiled at the power of it. But strangely enough, though 
all gaped widely at its portrayal of an unusual subject, and felt 
the power transmitted by this subject, none appeared to guess 
the nature and significance of the power. The picture was 
something different from anything Hollywood had produced, 
that was all. 

Now, the power which these joyful persons experienced 
was Subject-power, power residing not in a transmitting 
apparatus no bigger than a man's hand and known as " Mr. 
Mike," but introduced by the subject itself. The fact is, the 
young Bolshevist, Turin, had intentionally brought into prac- 
tical use a principle of power in the subject which had never 
been utilised before. He alone seemed to understand what he 
had done. His own words conveyed the impression that he 
understood that he had transferred to the Cinema a power of 
the mightiest sort — one that amounted to a revolutionary force. 
By this power, subject had, in fact, taken possession of the 
Cinema and of its destiny. Henceforth its shape and equip- 
ment would everlastingly, invariably, and without break, be 
influenced by it. There would be no more sudden jumps to 
golden glory by multi-millionaire Film Kings disguised as 
mechanical Spring-heeled Jacks. Subject-power would set the 
Cinema unfolding under the touch of its own unfolding. 
Mutual continuous transformation, this is what it meant. 

Whence and How is this Power derived? ' Turk Sib" 
reveals that the New Spirit of a nation is the reservoir of the 
power, like the voice in the microphone, that actuates the sub- 
ject, informs it, and sets it in motion. It asserts itself in the 
new vision and purpose of a people, the portrayal of a nation 
carving its own destiny, the expression of the epic social theme 
of Nature versus Human Life and Labour. Simply " Turk 
Sib " puts Bolshevist Russia on the screen in the first stage of 
the Five Years' Reconstruction Plan. It suggests that 
Russia's titanic economic and social struggle is to unfold on the 
screen for the enlightenment and education of the common folk. 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 363 

It implies that henceforth the screen and all that pertains to it 
must unfold, through experiment and research, to enable un- 
folding Russia to send its message (whatever that might be) to 
the common folk through the medium of the unfolding screen. 

To Production Companies and Renting Concerns accus- 
tomed to sell sex and crime to the public at the highest price, 
it must seem a dull and penniless business, this of putting the 
spirit or " soul of a nation in the making on the screen. I 
do not know whether " Turk Sib " started on a round of public 
exhibition in this country, for it is hard to come by informa- 
tion of Bolshevist activities. These English Bolshevist agencies 
do not shout it out to independent critics. They cringe to the 
representatives of the capitalist Press which they profess to hate, 
and beg for publicity, but not with much success, I fear. And 
why should they not canvas for publicity? After all, commerce 
is the thing. After all, to-day the main business is not cutting 
throats but cutting purses. 

But if our producers and renters and exhibitors do think 
that putting " soul " on the screen opens the doors to bank- 
ruptcy, they are wrong. Anyone who saw " Turk Sib " must 
have inferred that the story of England's unfolding in the past, 
present and possible could be screened, and the epic of English 
Life and Labour, of the building of a new civilisation, the facts 
of the new social organisation seeking to get itself fulfilled, the 
great fight for economic recovery, and the meaning and signi- 
ficance of the part taken in this by continents and colonies 
beyond the sea; that all this could be made as thrilling and 
popular as the dirty stuff handled by share-pushers is alleged 
to be. 

Mr. Bernard Shaw's treatment of English thought and 
action has travelled all across the world as fast as popularity 
could make it travel. Hollywood's screen portrayal of that 
great American national epic of the Far West has travelled all 
across the world as fast as its crude and violent and mechanical 
legs could carry it. Mr. Basil Dean's ambitious production of 



364 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Mr. John Galsworthy's slice of practical sociology will doubt- 
less travel all over the world as fast as the American Radio Cor- 
poration can push it. Why not set the epic of England on 
the screen so that all men may know it. But how? In the 
somewhat indefinite Bolshevist way of " Turk Sib " by making 
the Steel Road the new screen hero, and showing that he is 
having the time of his life in mighty conflict with Cyclopean 
Nature, fighting his way inch by inch across trackless distances, 
wild arid wastes, to produce wool and cotton, open up markets, 
to salve and join races? Nothing in this, some will say, but the 
Far Wild West speaking through an inspired interpreter. Or 
in the definite ordered manner of a master architect who first 
draws up the plan, surveys the site and material, determines the 
cost, and secures the money or credit for production. 

For a vast collective undertaking like the organisation and 
screening of the New Spirit of the English nation it is neces- 
sary to establish a central organisation of central organisations 
to enable those eligible for direct participation in the great task 
to survey the whole ground, to study the ideal, plan, principles, 
material, and methods. 

I can do no more here than merely suggest the requisites 
for such an organisation. 

a. House of Vision and House of Power. The means 
to make a complete survey. A central building designed, con- 
structed and arranged to afford a complete analysis and syn- 
thesis of the subject, national Life and Labour, in the 
past, present and possible, to be handled. Arranged, 
that is, so that the path it has taken, is taking, and 
the goal of perfection it may reach in the future may be clear 
and intelligible to all. To afford an analysis and synthesis of 
the cinema world, so that it may be seen as a whole and each of 
its departments may be studied in detail. At present there 
are no means of studying the life and labour of this world 
not even for the purpose of stopping those scandals that make 
studio life nauseous to clean-minded persons, scandals like that 



i 




i 


■ * 

# ^ 




■.•■•.• s 


■ff 


Ik i |T| '*-*- j| 


1 Hf^ 


■in v tl ; 

F r ' 

r ' *' ♦ If * * * <m 






- 



Z3 



c.S b 

>, c CO ,1 

xi Op c2 

— '^ c rt ° 

T3 3 <U C 

qj ~- co 2 

4= o <L> * 



<u 



m 



« C 






1.2 



CO 

5 <u ^ bc'3 

£ 5 J » £ 

o 



-a; . o <u 



^cc 



as 
."3 a3 ; 



^ j5 «» u 12 

^ rt-^-S Set; 

+_, '53 C - P ~_ 

g ai a D p t) 

u ,3 p^ £ £ 

r^.S O c a 

P— i rp cj .- ^ 3 
• £ o u r3 3 

o^ g 2<£ 
Z o ~ a S £ 

S-sg ..sjj 

"7 C u « <u O 

._■*■» w _5 +j 

N 00 co u i O 

^ 6 « « « 

•£ 03 
"^ 0) 

s a 






ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 365 

of agencies and producers who between them bleed picture 
players of from 30 to 40 per cent of their earnings; and remov- 
ing those evils of employment associated with hours, wages, and 
occupational maladies that discourage intelligent persons from 
participating in the work of the picture making; and beyond 
this of ascertaining where and how to establish training schools 
for technicians and players, of which there is a deplorable lack 
in this country. Such an institution would be a centralising, 
clearing and distributing house for ideals and ideas. If estab- 
lished in London it would provide a working model for re- 
gional institutions, to be established in cities and towns through- 
out the United Kingdom. Each of these branch establishments 
would serve to survey the life and labour of the region to which 
it belonged, and would thus provide all the details of a particular 
section of the general subject to be screened. 

During the War, France was divided into economic 
sections for the better prosecution of the War. I had a good 
deal to do in describing the working of this plan in the English 
Press. England should be divided into cinema centres for the 
better realisation of the present plan of picture revival. 

b. Surveyors, Architects and Builders. A body of 
men representing all departments of thought and action in the 
natural, vital and human sciences — historians, archaeologists, 
biologists, psychologists, medical men, architects, engineers, 
economists, sociologists, and so on. More particularly related 
to the business of the Cinema, bodies to undertake the manage- 
ment and supervision of systems, others to fulfil executive and 
consultative functions in the departments of finance, equipment, 
production, distribution, exhibition, public relations. Each of 
these divisions is capable of being sub-divided. One of the 
most important sub-divisions would be the employment depart- 
ment, whose function should be to regulate and supervise the 
conditions of labour with a view to making the Cinema Industry 
fit for employees. 

c. Unity of the Theatre and Cinema. The effect of 

2f; 



$66 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

the establishment of an institution, and the pooling of the best 
brains of the nation, in the service of the finest interests of the 
Cinema must have the inevitable result of identifying the Cinema 
not only with the spirit of the nation and of the age, but with 
the work of the Theatre in that direction. The Cinema would 
be led to co-operate with the Theatre in order to relieve it of 
those formidable tasks of expression which it is unfitted to 
fulfil, and which are mainly the cause of its inability to make 
any appreciable advance. The proper business of these two 
great instruments of expression is to operate together and in 
common with the object of sharing work. The Cinema should 
take over the portrayal of the tremendous spectacular expres- 
sion of the national spirit, the illustrations of the handling of 
the problems of social life and organisation on the largest scale, 
and leave to the Theatre the more intimate questions. A co- 
operation of the kind appears in Russia, where the Cinema and 
Theatre share in the representation of a big subject, like " The 
Decembrists," by expressing its two aspects — the theatre, the 
intrigues, plottings, counter-plottings ; and the Cinema the mass 
effects of the revolutionary outburst. 

d. The New Civic Centre. So would arise the Theatre- 
Cinema Cathedral as the centre of expression of civic and 
national life. As such it would take its place in the natural 
order of civic symbols which from the dawn of civilisation have 
appeared in cities and towns to symbolise the current civic 
and national ideal, and the spirit of the age. These in order 
have been the Pyramid, the Temple, the Acropolis (Athens), the 
Forum (Rome, symbolising rulership), the Cathedral (eccle- 
siastical domination), the Town Hall (Middle Age and 
Democracy), the Factory (Industrial Revolution, machines, 
money, political economy), to-day the Stock Exchange (Finance 
and Competitive Commerce), to-morrow the United Theatre and 
Cinema, and auxiliaries, Radio, etc. (scientific culture, and the 
science and religion of humanity). 

Vision and Achievement. David the king said to his 



ORGANISATION OF THE NEW SPIRIT 367 

people : " But God said unto me, thou shalt not build an house 
for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed 
blood. . . . Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and 
my courts. n Thus Solomon was divinely appointed to build 
a splendid temple in the service of God, and the People sup- 
plied the spontaneous spiritual factor. There was no economic 
or political restriction. May not Wisdom and the English 
People build a splendid Theatre Cinema temple to 
initiate all into a new philosophy and a new religion? 



PART VI 



APPENDICES 



I. Bibliographical Note 

It is estimated that there are about 1,000 books on the 
Cinema. Here I shall say a few words only on books mentioned 
in the text of this work. 

First let me explain. The present work should be read 
along with three others. It is complete in itself viewed as a 
human and sociological interpretation of the Cinema, and a 
proposal to unite the Cinema creatively with human life, human 
memory and aspiration. But it lacks details for which it had 
not space. These may be found elsewhere. 

" The New Spirit In The Russian Theatre " (Brentano, 
1929). Contains tables of parallels of political, economic and 
social events with theatrical consequences. These events may 
be paralleled with cinema consequences. Also a section on 
the Cinema and lists of Bolshevist organisations and pictures. 

" The New Theatre and Cinema of Soviet Russia " (1924). 
Out of print. Contains the details of the conception of the Bol- 
shevist cinema, policy, organisation, and other details. 

" The New Spirit in the European Theatre, 191 4-25.' ' 
Contains parallel tables of military, political, economic, social 
conditions and events and theatrical consequences. These tables 
of European parallels are helpful in studying cinema con- 
sequences. Neither the theatre nor cinema in England, France, 
Germany and other countries at wartime, and since, can be fully 
studied if separated or divorced from those living issues by which 
each was powerfully influenced. 

The Cinema as Art Form. Books on this subject are be- 
ginning to appear. Their tendency is to exalt " Art Form " 
where sociology should be. Here are examples. 

Prophecy. " Heraclitus, or The Future of the Films," by 

371 



372 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Ernest Betts. The writer traces the development of the film 
from its crude but astonishing beginnings as a " show " to its 
future as one of the artistic marvels of the world. The film as 
art form, etc. It deals with " the middle period in film history," 
pleads for " pure film " and was written before the " Talkie " 
revolution. The author conceives of " new art " not as the 
natural aesthetic of an object, but as a reasoned development and 
adaptation of mechanical devices, television, microphone, 
etc. 

Survey. "Film Problems of Soviet Russia," by Bryher. 
This is a " Close Up " production, and as such designed to pro- 
mote the anti-Censor crusade. It is also an excellent example 
of the pictorial survey of the Bolshevist Picture Production. But 
its author has not travelled beyond Berlin. Here again sociology 
is put away so that " art " may shine. There are but two brief 
chapters on " The Sociological Film " and this in spite of the 
fact that the theatre and the cinema of Bolshevist Russia are 
instruments of social expression primarily intended to exhibit the 
plan of class-struggle and the plan of industrial, economic and 
social reconstruction. The leading picture makers, Eisenstein, 
Pudovkin, Kuleshov, are class-struggle warriors who con- 
ceive of the Cinema not as a " noble art " but as a fighting and 
building weapon. 

Experiment. " The King Who Was A King," by H. G. 
Wells. Mr. H. G. Wells has been drawn into the ranks of the 
very serious men and women who are glancing towards the 
Cinema as a likely interpreter of the finest purpose of human 
life. Excellent. Mr. Wells is admirably equipped to put some- 
thing into the Cinema suitable for honest folks' swallowing. 
Something sociological. But unfortunately he, too, is set on 
influencing " art form." Like every sensible person Mr. Wells 
is dissatisfied with the haphazard character of the content and 
method of the Cinema. He wants it organised so as to take a 
positive part in the present re-shaping of human thought and 
action of the materials of human life. He wants it treated so 



APPENDICES 373 

that its interpretative power is raised to the highest level. He 
has written a scenario to show how these things may be done. 
Some day it will be produced to inspire in men better ideals 
of the Cinema. It has one weakness. It reveals that Mr. Wells 
has responded to the lure of " art." He is a sociologist, an 
eminent sociologist. He has a fine sociological ideal, the aboli- 
tion of war. He has written a scenario for a picture on the 
subject. He wants this picture to be so treated that it shall be 
" the herald of a new art." I maintain that by the introduction 
of the word " art " Mr. Wells runs the risk of putting his 
sociological intention out of court. Our critics will respond to 
the lure of " art " with a sort of passive ecstasy, and do nothing 
more. Such is the present day fashion in cinema criticism. 

Censorship. Of making books on censorship there is no 
end. " Do We Need A Censor," by Lord Brentford, is an 
answer in the affirmative as they say in Parliament. " The 
Political Censorship of Films," by Ivor Montagu, is an answer 
in the negative. It presents the case against the Censor, shows 
how to dodge him, and outlines a model organisation to distri- 
bute vetoed pictures. To Mr. Montagu non-inflammable stock 
seems to be the nearest way out of censorship. 

But why bother to dodge the Censor when the pictures them- 
selves can be trusted to do it. Many of the silent sex appeal 
pictures of the Valentino type were a body and limb exposi- 
tion, and analysis of the new doctrine of sexology similar to the 
exposition and analysis contained in that big and remarkable 
symposia on " Sex and Civilisation," edited by that live young 
American, V. F. Calverton. Millions of cinema-goers must have 
found such pictures rich in a sex language of which the Censor 
is quite ignorant. If I read the late D. H. Lawrence's brilliant 
and very controversial pamphlet, " Pornography and Obscenity " 
right, the conception of " sex " is really a personal matter. Each 
reads his own sex experience into a book, a play, a picture, each 
clothes the material objects of a picture with his own " sex " 
wishes. Can it be that pornography and obscenity actually begins 



374 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

in the mind of the audience in the auditorium where the Censor 
sits enthroned ? To the pure all things are pure. 

The " Talkie." " Talkie " literature is beginning. A first 
comer appears in " The Film Finds Its Tongue," by Fitz- 
hugh Green. (Putnam.) This is Warner Brothers Bible of 
which a Revised Version will be needed later. It describes how 
Warner Brothers brought the principle of power in the micro- 
phone into practical use with dramatic suddenness and solemnity ; 
their agony in the studio; their prayer for success; their Song 
of Songs when Mike took the world by storm, and their joy as 
the stream of gold overtook them and lifted them to undreamed- 
of heights. Ecstasies and mechanical devilments make up a 
moving or " telling " first record. 

Blue Books. The Cinema is still a very big business con- 
cern in spite of so much talk about the " Art of the Cinema " and 
" Art Form." If anyone doubts this let him refer to " The 
Theatre, Music Hall and Cinema Companies Blue Book " (Red- 
way, Mann and Co.). He will learn how the English Picture 
Industry is financed, the financial truth about English com- 
panies, the facts of their formation, their undertakings, produc- 
tions, shares, dividends, prosperity, failure; of promoters, 
directors, personnel, etc. 

2. Cinema Activities of the Five Leading Englishmen 

of Letters 

Bernard Shaw. In reply to my request for full particulars 
of his cinema activities, Bernard Shaw wrote : "I made an 
experiment to show the (Fox) movietone people how their ' inter- 
view ' should be produced, and also to find out for myself 
whether my dialogue and action could be put across as a talkie. 
The result was exhibited all over the world." His reply to my 
request for stills was, "No stills were taken; but the papers 
were full of horrible enlargements from the film strip." A re- 
production of an enlargement from the film strip is contained 



APPENDICES 375 

in this book. Mr. Shaw added, " I have very decided views as 
to the future of the Talkie in the hands of artistic producers 
who have really mastered its technique (the present exhibitions 
are pitiable), but I haven't time to write them." (Letter dated 
October 30, 1929.) When Mr. Shaw was shown some com- 
pleted sections of " Escape " (a Galsworthy play then being made 
into a Talkie by Basil Dean), he was reported to have expressed 
his appreciation, from which it was inferred that it was likely 
that Mr. Dean would " film " some of his plays. 1 

John Galsworthy wrote : " Silent films have been made of 
' Justice ' (1913), ' Fair,' ' The Skin Game ' (1920), * Quite 
Good,' ' The First and The Last ' (about 1921). Terribly bad, 
I believe. The novel ' The White Monkey ' (about 1924) even 
worse, I believe. No talking films as yet." (Letter dated October 
29, 1930). Since then Mr. Galsworthy's play " Escape " has been 
made into a talkie. 

H. G. Wells kindly sent me a copy of his scenario, " The 
King Who Was A King," and referred to his three shorts, pro- 
duced by Mr. Ivor Montagu and featuring Miss Eva Lancaster, 
as containing sociological possibilities. 

I was unable to overcome the difficulties surrounding the 
task of obtaining particulars of the cinema activities of Sir James 
Barrie. These difficulties may be gathered from the following 
explanation which he was so considerate as to send me : 

" I am afraid that I know of little to tell you about cinema 
plays done from my books and plays. I arranged with the 
Cinema Film Co. of ' Famous Players ' many years ago that they 
got all rights in anything of mine, with a few exceptions 
obviously unsuitable or already done, and they produced a 
number of them in U.S.A., but I had nothing to do with the 
actual production of them, nor did I make any scenarios though 
I did make some suggestions to their representative in the one 
case of ' Peter Pan.' Otherwise my only connection with the 
films has been, years ago again, to get some private things done 

1 Evening Standard, April 17, 1930. 



376 



THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 



for me, one of a dinner, another of a ' cricket week.' In the 
former Mr. Shaw and Mr. Chesterton made some amusing 
appearances." 

Through the kindness of Mr. Arnold Bennett I obtained 
the following particulars of pictures made from books and plays. 
The dates are those on which the contracts were signed : 



" Milestones." 

" The Great Adventure.' 



Play. 
Play. 



The Grand Babylon Hotel." Book. 
Sacred and Profane Love. 



" The Card." 
" The Old Wives' Tale.' 
" City of Pleasure." 
Edited " Faust." 

" Sinews of War." 



" Piccadilly." 

" Punch and Judy." 

14 Death, Fire and Life. 



Play and 

Book. 
Book. 
Book. 
Book. 



Samuelson. 

Ideal Films, transferred to 
Whitman Bennett and newly 
produced 2nd April, 1920. 

Jordan & Co., transferred to 
Hep worth. 

Famous Players. 



Ideal Films. 
Ideal Films. 
Lotham Stark. 
Wardour Films, 7th Novem- 
ber, 1926. 
Book. British International Film 

Distributors, 5th January, 
1928. 
Original. British International Pic- 

tures, 21st April, 1928. 
Original. British International Pic- 

tures, 28th June, 1928. 
Short Story. British International Pic- 
tures, 30th July, 1928. 



3. The Cinema As Art Form 
answers to questions from bernard shaw and john galsworthy 

If we examine much that is written on the Cinema to-day, 
we shall find, I think, that the terms " Art Form " and " Art 
of the Cinema " are frequently used. 

When I decided to send out one or two questions to ascer- 
tain the precise meaning attached to " Art Form " by four out- 
standing sociologists who have conceived of the Cinema as an 
instrument of social expression, but are undecided by what 
method to fashion it to attain the highest level of interpretation, 
how best to shape it to communicate their experiences to the 
audience, I was entering upon no new battle. As art critic I 
came to terms with Art long ago. My questions were : 

1. In your opinion should the Cinema fulfil a social 
function for the community ? 



APPENDICES 377 

2. Do you know of any particular form that would raise 
the level of interpretative power and with it the level of achieve- 
ment? 

3. If an " Art Form," do you mean a form determined 
by the aesthetic of technique, or by a natural aesthetic? 
As in the " Secrets of Nature " pictures which reveal natural 
objects putting on their own form and colour. 

Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy both very 
considerately wrote replies. Mr. Wells was in one of his 
fine palaces in the South of France, and Mr. Arnold Bennett 
wrote that he was overwhelmed with commitments. I think 
he said he was producing four plays, two operas, dictating seven 
stories and outlining a score or more of articles. Knowing 
of his abundant energy, it would not have surprised me if 
he had had a shot at my questions. However, I do not com- 
plain. 

Here is Bernard Shaw : " The question has no meaning 
for me, as art is to me only a method of intelligible or sensible 
expression, and art forms are processes to be carried out by instru- 
ments under the control of the artist. Art for art's sake is 
rather like fox hunting or skating, which have no sense except 
as ways of procuring food or moving from place to place, but 
are continued for fun by people who don't eat foxes and who, 
after hours of skating, take off their skates at the spot where 
they put them on, without having travelled in the meantime 
further than the opposite side of the pond. 

" Drama is a method of re-arranging the higgledy-piggledy 
happenings of actual life in such a way as to make them intel- 
ligible and thinkable. Its forms, processes and instruments in- 
clude the stage, the screen, the camera, the microphone, the 
actor and all the other things by which the final effect desired 
is wrought on the senses of the audience. There is nothing new 
in the art of drama; but a cinema is a new art form like a new 
instrument added to the orchestra or a new verse form, like 
that in Bridges' * Testament of Beauty.' It is available, of course, 



378 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

for scientific demonstration also, as when it makes the month's 
growth of a pea visible within a few seconds. 

" Also it is practiced for fun like hunting. In the palmy 
days of acting, people found the declamation of an actor so 
curious and agreeable that they would crowd to hear him ranting 
through plays in which there was less sense than there is meat 
in fox. 

" In short, I don't quite see why you should boggle at 
the description of the cinema as an art form. All I can do is 
to make my own view clear." (Letter dated ist January, 1930.) 

Here is John Galsworthy : " When the film was silent I 
came to look on it with tolerance, and once in a way with grati- 
tude as a form of entertainment, and certainly with admiration 
as a means of education, and with alarm as a means of propa- 
ganda. It had a certain power when very ably and restrainedly 
handled of exciting aesthetic emotion. It had a very real and 
rather dangerous power of holding the eye even at its worst. 
It could sway you while you looked on, but when you came 
away (with the rarest exceptions) you were wholly unmoved. 
And this, I think, was partly because you were conscious of its 
enormous faking power, and partly because the eye was held at 
such a pace that the mind did not stir in concord. As to whether 
it was an ' art form,' as the ' black crow ' would stay, ' I couldn't 
be bothered with that.' Its best point, taken by and large, 
was the power to make you laugh. Finally, as records of real 
life, silent films can, it seems to me, be most interesting and 
valuable. So far as I have seen ' talkie ' films at present, they 
have seemed to me silent films spoiled. But I have only seen 
three or four." (Letter dated January 24, 1930.) Mr. Gals- 
worthy's consent to the filming of his play " Escape " as a talkie 
probably meant that he had altered his opinion. 

It would seem that present-day representative men have 
conceived of the Cinema as an " Art Form." Probably as the 
practice of the principle of Subject Power becomes better under- 
stood, a different concept will shape itself in their minds. In 



APPENDICES 379 

any case, it is highly instructive to see English writers of the 
first rank not only discovering in the Cinema a new instrument 
of expression, but proposing to themselves that it shall pursue a 
higher aim than it has done hitherto. 

4. Supplementary Material 

a. recent german development. the u.f.a. talkie 

(ufatone) 

Answers to questions submitted to Universum-Film 
Aktiengesellschaft (U.F.A.) : Berlin. 

1. The present conditions of the Universum-Film Aktien- 
gesellschaft : 

The present conditions of the Ufa can be conscientiously 
described as financially sound and very hopeful. Naturally, the 
innovation of the sound-film, especially the patent difficulties in 
Germany, i.e., the patent litigations between Western Electric 
and Klangfilm, have made the business situation for all German 
producers extremely difficult. Nevertheless, the Ufa has suc- 
ceeded not only in erecting in the space of hardly four months 
a giant new sound-film studio consisting of four stages, and in 
transforming all the existing studios at Neubabelsberg into sound 
stages, but it has also produced during the last year Rwe 100 per 
cent sound and talking super productions and two super sound 
productions. Of these, fi\e pictures have been released and have 
proved a box-office attraction of positively first rank. The returns 
from these pictures not only in Germany and the large pro- 
vincial cities, but also abroad, have surpassed all box office 
records ever attained. 

2. The possibilities : 

With the new equipment now in possession of the Ufa 
and with the trained personnel, the possibilities of development 
are better than ever before. Last year's attempts to make foreign 
language versions have been fully successful, and in a very short 
time the big Ufa talkies will appear in the various English- and 



380 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

French-speaking countries. 1 It must be added here that German 
versions have proved highly successful outside Germany in 
Austria, Hungary, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Fin- 
land and several other European countries. 

3. Number of studios : 

At Neubabelsberg the Ufa has one large sound studio, the 
best and quite modern equipped in Europe and, as far as ventila- 
tion is concerned, in the entire world. This studio has four 
stages. Additional four studios are available for sound-film 
production in the large, massive studio, and besides there are 
two smaller studios for minor work. In Tempelhof the Ufa 
still possesses the four studios it always had. Altogether, the Ufa 
employs in its studios, theatres and administration buildings 
about 6,000 people. 

4. Number of cinemas and attendances : 

The Ufa owns above 130 theatres in Germany, Holland, 
Austria, Hungary and Switzerland, and through its renting 
organisation it controls at least an additional 2,000 cinemas. 

5. Number of pictures produced in a year : 

See number 1. Here you must take into consideration that 
our programme from the beginning to the middle of the last 
year was badly hampered by the lack of studio stages, apparatus 
difficulties, etc. 

6. A list of the most important pictures produced during 
1927-28-29-30 : 

1927-28 : 

" Spies." Sensational drama. Producer : Fritz Lang. 

" Behind the German Lines." Historical document. 

" At the edge of the world." Drama. Producer : Karl Grune. 

" Looping the Loop." Circus drama. Producers : Bloch and 

Rabinowitsch. 
1928-29 : 

"Hurrah, I'm Alive!" Comedy. Producer: N06 Bloch. 

" Secrets of the East." Oriental picture de luxe. Producer : 

No£ Bloch. 
" Manolescu." Drama. Producers : Bloch and Rabinowitsch. 
" Home-Coming." Drama. Producer : Erich Pommer. Directed 

by Joe May. 

1 Since this was written in January, 1930, three have been trade shown 
in London, " The Blue Angel," " Love's Waltz," and " The Girl in the 
Moon." 



APPENDICES 381 

11 Asphalt." Drama. Producer : Erich Pommer. Directed by 

Joe May. 
" Hungarian Rhapsody." Drama. Producer : Erich Pommer. 
" The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrowna." Drama. Producer : 

Erich Pommer. 
" The Girl in the Moon." Drama. Producer : Fritz Lang. 
1929-30 : 

" The Equator Tramp." Sound comedy. Producer : Guenther 

Stapenhorst. 
11 The White Devil." Sound drama. Producers : Bloch and 

Rabinowitsch. 
" Heart's Melody." Sound and talking drama. Producer : Erich 

Pommer. 
" Love's Waltz." Uf atone operetta. Producer : Erich Pommer. 
11 The Immortal Vagabond." Ufatone drama. Producer : Joe May. 
" The Last Company." Ufatone drama. Producer : Joe May. 
"The Blue Angel." Ufatone drama. Producer: Erich Pommer. 



B. Conditions of Cinema Industries 

1. Sweden. I am indebted to die Swedish Legation and 
the Svensk Film Industry for the following answers to ques- 
tions : — 

1. (a) When was the most prosperous period of the 
Swedish Film Industry? It is not easy to answer this question 
briefly. An experimental start was made in 1909 and 19 10 in 
Kristianstad, a town in the south of Sweden. The first film 
studio was then built in 191 1 at Lidingon, near Stockholm, and 
in the same year Mr. Mauritz Stiller and Mr. Victor Sjostrom 
were engaged as producers. At first their efforts were concen- 
trated on sensational films, " Under the Circus Roof," etc. These 
gained a tremendous success and were shown all over the world. 
This was in its way a prosperous period. 

However, Aktiebolaget Svenska Biografteatern, now Svensk 
Filmindustri, the firm which introduced film production in 
Sweden, soon departed from the sensational road and devoted its 
resources to national subjects. In 1912 " Ingeborg Holm " was 
produced. It became an instant world success. It was shown 
in every country where a cinema was to be found. 

1916 was a particularly notable year in the annals of Swedish 
films. Then the great artistic films began to appear with the 
production of " Terje Vigen " and "Berg Ejvind." By the 

27 



382 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

simplicity of their composition and the true realism of their 
presentation of character these films inaugurated a new era in 
the history not only of Swedish but of universal film produc- 
tion. 

One after the other a series of super-films followed each 
other during the succeeding years. They were in many cases 
founded on works by Selma Lagerlof. Mention may here be 
made of films like " Korkarlen," 1 " Herr Arnes' Hoard," the 
Ingmars and Jerusalem films, " En herrgardssagen," " Gosta 
Berling," and others, films which have been called classical by 
a judge like Abel Gance. 

These years formed an exceedingly flourishing period in 
the Swedish film annals. 

There is no doubt that Svensk Filmindustri has now 
entered upon another period of successful production. During 
the past year several films were produced which have enjoyed 
an extraordinarily great success in Sweden, namely, the farce 
" Konstgjorda Svensson," " Norrlanningar," the magnificent film 
from the Polar regions, " Den Starkaste," and not least, the first 
Swedish sound film, " Sag det i toner," 2 which has beaten all 
previous records of popularity in Sweden. 

This year's production has already been started with a farce 
and a comedy founded on one of Selma Lagerlof 's latest novels, 
" Charlotte Lowenskold." At the moment talking film equip- 
ment of the Tobis system is being installed. Svensk Filmindustri 
will henceforth produce sound films and talkies side by side with 
silent films. 

(b) Various types of films produced in Sweden. This 
question is covered by the information given above. 

(c) Number of production Studios. The so-called " film 
city " of Rasunda possesses two big studios of 40 by 25 metres 
and 30 by 18 metres respectively. 

The establishment is thoroughly modern and its equipment 

1 Shown in England, (a) " Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness " ; (&) " The 
Atonement of Gosta Berling." 

2 " Say It with Melody." 



APPENDICES 383 

can be compared with that of any European film studio. " The 
film city " was built in 19 19 and 1920. The equipment has been 
supplemented from year to year with new inventions and im- 
provements of machinery. The laboratory, for instance, is of 
the highest class and very efficiently organised with a selected 
staff of superior professional ability. 

In addition, Svensk Filmindustri owns at Stocksund, near 
Stockholm, another studio establishment, at present not in use. 

(d) Number of Cinemas. Approximately 1,200, whereof 
about 80 are in Stockholm. About 100 cinemas belong to Svensk 
Filmindustri. Approximately 500 cinema owners obtain their 
programmes from Svensk Filmindustri. 

2. Cause or causes of any decline, etc. The financial 
crisis which occurred in Sweden after the war affected different 
classes of business enterprise in Sweden and also, in some degree, 
film production. But these conditions were only a temporary 
phenomenon. The flooding of the European markets with 
American films was also a hindering factor, like the closing of 
the American film market to European films. 

3. (a) Present conditions and potentialities. The present 
conditions are very favourable to Swedish films. This is partly 
because of the fact that it is impossible to present films in foreign 
languages. But partly also because the public is getting tired of 
the American film with its jazz mentality. More or less con- 
sciously the public feels again attracted to films of lyrical inspira- 
tion. It can also be stated that during 1929 more satisfactory 
results were undoubtedly achieved than during the previous 
years. 

(b) The principal producing companies. Aktiebolaget 
Svensk Filmindustri, which produces about 10 films annually, is 
the only producing firm in Sweden apart from temporary enter- 
prises that exist for the purpose of making isolated films. 

(c) The number of cinemas and attendances. As regards 
the number of cinemas, see under 1. (d). Attendances vary natur- 
ally to a great extent in different classes of halls. A considerable 



384 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

number only offer comparatively restricted accommodation. The 
super-cinemas in the bigger towns, like " Roda Kvarn," 
" Skandia " and " Palladium " in Stockholm, enjoy a very good 
and steady attendance. Figures of the State's income from 
amusement tax prove that attendances have been fairly constant 
since 8 or 10 years ago. 

During 1920-1929, 137 pictures were produced. The best 
released in England were " Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness," " The 
Judgment " and " The Atonement of Gosta Berling." 

2. Switzerland. Information communicated by courtesy of 
the Swiss Legation, London. 

It would appear that the film industry is practically non- 
existent in Switzerland and it is therefore not possible to speak 
of the prosperity or the decline of such industry, as it has never 
been flourishing. The main reason is no doubt lack of capital 
and also the absence of film-stars. Our actors usually go abroad 
as soon as they are made " stars." 

As far as can be ascertained, only two entirely Swiss films 
have been produced in Switzerland. 

(a) "La Croix Du Cervin " ("The Cross of the Matter- 
horn "), filmed in 1922, and produced by the " Societe des Films 
artistiques," in Geneva. Since then, this firm has ceased to exist. 

(b) " L'Appel De La Montagne " (" The Call of the Moun- 
tain "), filmed in 1922, scenario by Porchet, Geneva. 

A certain number of Swiss films have been made in Switzer- 
land with the assistance of foreign firms : 

" Winter," filmed in 1929, produced by Helvetia Films, 
Bern, distributed by the Office Cinematographique, Lausanne, 
adaptation by J. M. Aymar and Jean Lordier, both of French 
nationality; the main actors were Peggy Bonnys, Jack Russell 
(Paris) and Michel-Michel (Switzerland). 

Furthermore, certain foreign films have been made in 
Switzerland with Swiss assistance. The following are the most 
important ones : 

"Le Pauvre Village" ("The Poor Village"), filmed in 



APPENDICES 385 

1920, scenario by M. Porta et F. P. Amiguet, of Lausanne; prin- 
cipal actors Germaine Rouer et Maxudian. 

" Les Origines De La Confederation Suisse " (" The Origin 
of the Swiss Confederation "), filmed in 1923, by Harder 
(American), for the American producers "Sunshine"; the cast 
was composed entirely of Swiss actors. 

" Visages D'Enfants " (" Children's Faces "), French film by 
J. Feyder, filmed for the greater part in the Valais, under the 
direction of A. Porchet, of Geneva. 

" La Vocation D 'And re Carrel " (" The Vocation of Andre 
Carrel "), film by Jean Choux, filmed on the shores of the Leman 
(Lake of Geneva). 

" La Conquete Dramatique Du Cervin " (" The Dramatic 
Conquest of the Matterhorn "), German film by Arnold Fanck, 
photographed mainly at Zermatt. 

" Petronella," a German film made in Switzerland and 
representing Swiss historic events. 

Of all these foreign films, only the ones by Dr. A. Fanck 
are really remarkable, especially " La Montagne Sacree " (" The 
Sacred Mountain "), which, I am told, was a world success, and 
"L'Enfer Blanc Du Piz Palu " ("The White Hell of Piz 
Palu "), which is now exhibited in most European capitals, and 
which is also a remarkable reproduction. 

The best Swiss film is " L'Appel De La Montagne," which 
I have mentioned at the beginning of this letter, and the best 
foreign film produced in Switzerland, with the help of Swiss 
actors, is " Visage D'Enfants," also mentioned above. 

The principal film companies in Switzerland are the 
following : — 

Film Aap, Geneva. 

Office Cinematographique, Lausanne. 

Schweizer Schul- und Volkskino, Berne. 

Praesens-Film, Zurich. 

Film Lips, Bale. 

Eos Film, Bale. 



386 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

They produce mainly documentary films. 

3. England. (a) Instructional. Instructional Films 
activities. A note from Mr. Sidney Rogerson. " With regard to 
your queries : — 

Almost everything that has been done in connection 
with the production of national or Empire films has been done 
by British Instructional Films. They alone, under the leader- 
ship of Mr. Bruce W^oolfe, seem to follow the policy that the 
cinema should not compete with the theatre but should strike 
out a new line under the open skies and in wide spaces. This 
company have made such films as " Palaver," showing the white 
man's burden in Nigeria; " Shiraz " and " Throw of the Dice," 
two pictures produced by white directors with an all-Indian cast 
in India; " Stampede," the story of Arab life in the Western 
Sudan, and " Stark Nature," a new picture in production showing 
African animals in their native haunts. 

British Instructional have, in addition, produced many films 
in the Crown Colonies, etc. 

The big Empire picture, now titled " One Family," is 
practically complete and should be shown in London some time 
before the end of next month (April, 1930). 1 

With regard to national films, B.I.F. have, as you know, 
produced all the big War films with the exception of " Bala- 
clava," "The Somme," and " Q Ships," i.e., "Jutland," 
"Armageddon," " Zeebrugge," " Ypres," " Mons," " Coronel 
and Falkland Islands," and are about to produce " Tell Eng- 
land." They have also practically alone attempted to make 
pictures thoroughly British in their atmosphere and free of all 
back-stage or cabaret flavour. Such pictures are " Cottage on 
Dartmoor," " The Lost Patrol," " Underground," etc. 

Ground covered by British Instructional Films : Agricul- 
ture, Botany, Engineering, Feature Films, General Interest, 
Geography, Health, History, Natural History, Physiology, and 
Scripture. 

1 It was shown in July, 1930. 



APPENDICES 387 

Information from Sir Gordon Craig, Managing Director of 
The New Era Films : 

With regard to documentary films distributed by this com- 
pany, the following are titles and the years of release : " Arma- 
geddon," February, 1923; " Zeebrugge," February, 1924; 
' Ypres," November, 1925; " Mons," November, 1926; "The 
Somme," November, 1927; " Q Ships," November, 1928. 

(b) The Bolshevist invasion of England and growth of pro- 
Bolshevist organisations and activities. 

Since the beginning of this year 1930 there have been signs 
of a systematic invasion of this country by the Bolshevist Picture 
Industry. Several of the leading producers have visited London 
either to attend the first performance of their pictures, or to 
lecture, or both. 

Pictures hitherto banned have been publicly exhibited, for 
instance, Pudovkin's " Mother " and " The End of St. Peters- 
burg." Turin's " Turk Sib " has been trade shown and accorded 
a " good press." Eisenstein's " General Line " has been privately 
shown at the U.S.S.R. Embassy. A new renting and distribut- 
ing company has been formed called the " Atlas Film Co. Ltd.," 
which has attracted the attention of anti-bolshevists. 
The Federation of Workers' Film Societies, the offspring of the 
London Workers' Film Society, organised primarily to bring 
Bolshevist pictures to the workers, has come to include societies 
at Bradford, Edinburgh, Merseyside, Cardiff and elsewhere. 
The movement to exhibit Bolshevist pictures in this country has 
found a number of supporters among intellectuals and repre- 
sentative persons, many of whom protested against the action of 
the Censor in opposing the proposal by the Masses Stage and 
Film Guild to exhibit " Mother." 

(c) Unusual Cinemas and Pictures : 

1. English, (a) The Avenue Pavilion (" House of Silent 
Shadow "). For over two years the Avenue Pavilion Cinema was 
inseparably bound up with the unusual silent picture campaign. 
But it would be a mistake to assume therefore that it was engaged 



388 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

in the anti-Censor war. With the exception of the reasonable 
struggle to exhibit the German picture, " Martin Luther," and 
the victory gained, partly through the exertions of Mr. Stuart 
Davis, and partly through the favourable attitude of the Press, 
there has been no collision with the Censor. Many silent pictures 
of extreme merit, and of different types, were in existence in 
Europe and America. They had been shown only in a limited 
way. They deserved to be seen by students and the general 
public in England. In helping to bring them before English 
audiences a public service was rendered. In a letter to me, Mr. 
Davis describes how this desirable end was brought about. 

"The Avenue Pavilion was built in 191 1 and was then 
considered to be the finest and most up-to-date West End cinema 
theatre. It did remarkably good business and for some years 
remained the leading West End cinema. In later years, how- 
ever, it suffered from a great deal of opposition from Marble 
Arch Pavilion, New Gallery, Tivoli, Plaza and all the big West 
End theatres, which opened one by one. As the opposition 
became stronger, so the business diminished, owing to the fact 
that nearly all its films were second run, and the house, as com- 
pared to the modern theatres, was out-of-date. Something had 
to be done to keep the house alive, and several experiments were 
tried but without success. 

" Some three years ago, whilst on a visit to New York, I 
was considerably interested in the Cameo Theatre, which was 
then a similar type of house running on a policy of presenting 
the artistic film and the non-commercial film, also revivals of 
interesting classic films. On my return to London I was con- 
vinced that there was a big need for this sort of cinema theatre 
in London, and the Avenue Pavilion was the ideal place in which 
to start it. An experiment was tried with ' Kaddish,' a film 
of particular Jewish interest, which was a very big success. 

" I was not able to continue the idea at that time, as I 
found it extremely difficult to obtain the right kind of product, 
renters were loath to allow the Avenue Pavilion to show new 



APPENDICES 389 

films, as they had never heard of it, and the press took little 
interest at first in the theatre as they also had never heard of it. 
Copies of interesting revivals were hard to find and it needed a 
great deal of research in tracing them. However, in April of 
1928, with the aid of the Gaumont-British Booking Department, 
I managed to obtain Pabst's ' The Loves of Jeanne Ney,' for 
premier presentation in the West End, from Wardour Films, 
which almost doubled the takings of the theatre. This was kept 
on for two weeks, a thing unprecedented at the Avenue Pavilion, 
and not being able to find another film, I then reverted to a pro- 
gramme of ordinary films, with a corresponding drop in the 
takings. 

" The next film of interest that I could find was a Russian 
film, ' The Postmaster,' which was quite successful, though it 
was not a very wonderful film. I was able to follow this with 
* The Red Flame,' a German film featuring Bernard Goetzke, 
dealing with the recent Chinese Civil Wars. No more films 
were then available and ordinary programme features were 
reverted to. 

" However, after two weeks of this, I happened to be stuck 
for a second feature for three days at the end of one week, and 
as an experiment I inserted a revival of ' Vaudeville.' The 
takings for the latter half of the week with this revival doubled 
the first half of the week, and the following week two ordinary 
films were shelved and ' Vaudeville ' kept on, playing to enor- 
mous business, this in spite of the approaching summer. This 
made me definitely decide on the policy and when I was unable 
to obtain new films I carried on with revivals. 

" By that time I had traced a copy of ' The Nibelungs ' and 
■ The Street,' both of which ran for two weeks and did very big 
business. The premier presentation of ' Waxworks ' was then 
given, it having just passed the Censor, and it played for four 
weeks during the month of July, in spite of a heat wave which 
coincided with the opening of the picture. 

" Following ' Waxworks ' came ' Warning Shadows,' 



390 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

which ran for four weeks, * The Marriage of the Bear,' ■ The 
Student of Prague,' ' Forbidden Paradise,' a Lubitsch production 
featuring Pola Negri and Adolphe Menjou, and ' The Atonement 
of Gosta Berling,' a Swedish film featuring Lars Hanson and 
Greta Garbo; the premier presentation of ' Tartuffe ' for three 
weeks, Emil Jannings in ' Danton,' Ludwig Berger's ' Cin- 
derella,' Ivan Mosjoukine in ' Kean,' ' Thou Shalt Not,' Jacques 
Feyder's version of Therese Racquin, which ran for four weeks, 
breaking all existing house records, followed by Chaplin's ' A 
Woman of Paris,' ' Berlin,' ' The Last Laugh,' ' Dr. Mabuse,' 
' Rosenkavalier,' ' The Hands of Orlac,' ' Manon Lescaut,' 
finishing up the first year with a highly-successful Repertory 
Fortnight of the six best pictures played during the past twelve 
months, which were voted for by the patrons of the theatre. The 
success of the enterprise was proved by the receipts which had 
been doubled. 

" I was personally responsible for the policy since its incep- 
tion and chose and booked every picture that has been presented. 
At the beginning I was also associated with the Booking Depart- 
ment of Gaumont-British, and thus was not able to devote a 
great deal of time to the publicity side, which was carried out 
by the manager of the theatre, thus it has been supposed in some 
quarters that it was he who originated the idea. Many people 
can claim to have suggested it, as there was obviously a big need 
for a cinema such as this in London, but the difficulties of carry- 
ing it out were great and I think I can fairly claim to be the 
first person in England, at any rate, to have surmounted these 
difficulties and to have put the idea into practice. 

" In January, 1929, it was decided to extend the policy to 
the Provinces and I opened the Century, Liverpool, and the 
Savoy, Leeds, on similar lines. Here also it was highly success- 
ful, but a big difficulty was encountered. In London it is 
possible to run each film for two or three weeks, there being 
enough people interested to do so, but in the Provinces it was 
found that one week was the limit of run of any picture; con- 



APPENDICES 391 

sequently three times the number of pictures were required for 
the Provinces than for London, and it was, therefore, not possible 
to keep up the very high standard which we set ourselves and 
which is absolutely necessary for such an undertaking. This has 
proved an insurmountable difficulty at Leeds, which has now 
closed down and reverted to ordinary programmes, but Liverpool 
is still struggling valiently on. 

" Early this year the Talkies arrived, and far from affecting 
the Avenue Pavilion, they have brought fresh customers in the 
people who do not like Talkies and wish to see a good silent 
programme. They have, however, had the effect of making it 
necessary to import films directly from abroad. With this end 
in view I made a trip to Paris this summer and in four days 
secured a number of highly-interesting French productions, 
enabling me to hold a French season. His Excellency the French 
Ambassador attended the Gala Performance on the opening 
night, at which a large number of notabilities were present, in- 
cluding H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, Sir Edward Elgar, 
Edmund Dulac, Donald Calcroft, Anna May Wong and the Rt. 
Hon. J. H. Thomas. This gathering undoubtedly proved the 
tremendous interest in the film as an art, which is held by 
members of every branch of the artistic world, and by all people 
of discrimination and taste. 

" During the present year a further innovation has been 
made, as all the ordinary films previously booked under the old 
regime have now been played off and owing to the advent of 
the Talkies, the European markets for silent films are open. 
Thus it has been possible to form a programme consisting of one 
new product of artistic merit and a revival of interest. The pro- 
grammes will also contain from time to time a number of short 
subjects of unusual interest. 

" Included in the programme of the second year of the 
Avenue Pavilion's policy were : ' Refuge,' ' Two Brothers,' ' The 
Tragedy of the Street,' ' Woman to Woman,' the first English 
film to be revived, ' Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness,' a Victor 



392 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

Sestrom production, * Anna Christie,' * Manon Lescaut,' * The 
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,' ' The Mystic Mirror,' featuring Fritz 
Rasp, directed by Carl Hoffmann, ' The Living Corpse,' featuring 
Pudovkin, ' Martin Luther,' which was at first banned by the 
Censor and afterwards passed with a few minor cuts, and ' The 
Rose of Pu Chui,' the first Chinese film to be seen in Europe." 

The Avenue Pavilion, " The House of Silent Shadow," was 
thus establishing itself as the one cinema theatre in London 
where discriminating people were assured of seeing a really 
interesting programme composed of the world's most artistic 
productions, when its adventure came to an end in March, 1930. * 

(b) The Film Society. This Society belongs to the unusual 
cinema movement. It has sought to provide for the instruction 
of students and the enlightenment of its members generally, an 
analysis of periods and styles of cinematography from its start. 
On the whole its achievement has been remarkable, as its thirty- 
odd programmes prove. I am indebted to the Society for copies 
of the programmes up to the beginning of the present season. I 
should like to give a complete list of the items which they con- 
tain, probably 150 in number, but space does not permit. So I 

1 [Author's Note. — After I had sent Mr. Stuart Davis' statement to 
my publisher, I received from Mr. Leslie Ogilvie a much-delayed answer 
to my request for the facts of his association with the Avenue Pavilion 
experiment. In his letter, dated May, 1930, he says, " I alone was the 
originator of the Avenue policy and chose and presented all the films " 
. . . " Mr. G. A. Atkinson in the Sunday Express, and Mr. Henry Dobb 
in the Sunday Worker " (a Communist paper) " both gave the movement 
wide publicity which did a great deal to strengthen my hand." . . . 
" Mr. Dobb took an active part in the affair after I left." . . . ("to 
direct the Tussauds shows — cinema, waxworks, etc.", vide evening paper). 
Mr. Davis makes a similar claim to initiation and achievement, leaving 
out Dobb, Blakeston, and others of the red and white brigade. Of course, 
I cannot settle the rival personal claims. I can only give the statement 
made by each claimant. My sole concern is to put on record the very 
fine achievement of the Avenue Pavilion during 1928-30. Readers may 
decide for themselves by turning to The Observer, of December 12, 1928, 
and The Evening News, April 22, 1929. In the first, C.A.L. surveys at 
length the first six months, in the second, A. Jympson Harman, the first 
year, of the work at the Avenue Pavilion. Both attribute this work to 
Mr. Leslie Ogilvie, apparently on a basis of information supplied by him. 
Many of the details given are similar to those in Mr. Stuart Davis' 
memorandum. It will be noted that Mr. Davis suggests that he was for 
some time the man " behind the scene " working the machinery, while 
Mr. Ogilvie attended to the " front of the house " and publicity.] 



APPENDICES 393 

will note here only some of the principal ones. The particulars 
given are the dates of exhibition by the Film Society, the titles, 
producers, countries and dates of production. 

1925. " Waxworks." Paul Leni. German. 1924. 

1925. " Cinderella." Ludwig Berger. German. 1923. 

1925. " Raskolnikov." Robert Weine. German. 1923. 

1926. " The Marriage Circle." Ernst Lubitsch. German. 1924. 
1926. " The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Robert Wiene. German. 1919. 
1926. " The Late Matthew Pascal." Marcel L'Herbier. French. 1924-5. 
1926. " Dr. Mabuse." Fritz Lang. German. 1922. 

1926. " Greed." Erich von Stroheim. American. 1923. 

1927. " The Joyless Street." G. W. Pabst. German. 1925. 
1927. " L'Inhumane." Marcel L'Herbier. French. 1923-4. 
1927. " Polikushka." Russian. 1923. 

1927. " Nana." Jean Renoir. French. 1926. 

1928. " Jerusalem." Gustaf Molander. Swedish. 1926. 
1928. " Berlin." Walther Ruttmann. German. 1927. 
1928. " Tartuffe." F. W. Murnau. German. 1925. 
1928. " Mother." V. I. Pudovkin. Russian. 1926. 
1928. " The Wild Duck." Lulu Pick. German. 1925. 

1928. " Dracula." F. W. Murnau. German. 1922. 

1929. " Rien que les Heures." A. Cavalcanti. French. 1927. 

1929. " The End of St. Petersburg." V. I. Pudovkin. Russian. 1927. 

1929. " En Rade." Albert Cavalcanti. French. 1928. 

1929. " Bed and Sofa." Russian. 1927. 

1929. " The Battleship Potemkin." S. M. Eisenstein. Russian. 1925. 

1930. " The Heir to Jenghiz Khan." V. I. Pudovkin. Russian. 1928. 

As indicating the activity and scope of the society's exhibi- 
tions, the following is of importance. During the season 1926- 
27 it exhibited thirty-five pictures. Nine of these (four German, 
two French, two English, and one Russian) had not before been 
shown publicly in this country. Of the remainder, two were 
German, one Russian, eight American and fifteen English. 

5. Acknowledgments 

The proper place for acknowledgments is in the 
preface. They are placed here because the body of the 
book was completed before some long-delayed information 
was received. It is very difficult in a book of this kind to 
acknowledge each individual act of courtesy in supplying informa- 
tion, or granting permission to reproduce illustrations. I have 
sought, and I trust successfully, to overcome the difficulty by 
making acknowledgments in the text and on the illustrations. 
A word of thanks is due, in particular, to Mr. Stuart Davis, the 



394 THE NEW SPIRIT IN THE CINEMA 

manager of the Avenue Pavilion Cinema, for facilities to repro- 
duce still photographs of some of the French pictures shown 
during the French season at the Avenue Pavilion. On the 
clerical side, in the collection of material, sifting it, arranging it, 
and in the preparation of the book, I have had no assistance. All 
this is my own work, and for its sins of commission and omis- 
sion, if there be any, in these respects, I am responsible. 



INDEXES 
[Note. — The Appendices are not indexed, but their con- 
tents are indicated by the Contents Table (which see) and 
otherwise are systematically arranged so that reference is easy. 
A large number of names of Cinema personalities will be found 
classified and grouped according to "Stars" groupings (see 
" Stars "). The names of members of Cinema Associations and 
Leagues, — Film Society, Masses Stage, etc., are also grouped 
in the text. (See Cinema Organisations Index E.) The names 
of pioneers, and the inventors of Cinema Apparatus will be 
found in the chapter on the History of the Machine, pp. 17-22.] 



INDEXES 

1. NAMES. 

(A) PRESS AND BOOKS. 



1. Newspapers. 

Times, 143-4, 262-3, 273, 27G, 299 
Manchester Guardian, 6, 109, 188, 

230, 262, 264, 272, 304 

Evening News, 7, 20, 109, 121, 131, 
132, 138, 142, 148, 154, 156, 169, 

186, 206, 226, 288, 300, 301, 308, 310, 
317 

Morning Post, 11, 205, 232, 261, 353 
Daily Herald, 14, 158, 232, 287, 288, 

300, 307, 308 
Daily News, 20, 129, 139, 158, 180, 

187, 188, 260, 300, 302, 359 
Evening Standard, 20, 120, 131, 132, 

136, 139, 141, 156, 158, 189, 194, 
225, 228, 229, 230, 231, 232, 260, 281, 

294, 307, 308, 324, 355 
Observer, 3, 36, 58, 109, 115, 156, 

231, 260, 262, 272, 274, 276, 279, 

295, 304, 348, 353, 355, 356 

Daily Express, 58, 87, 88, 109, 120, 
121, 128, 135, 137, 138, 159, 169, 174, 
175, 179, 180, 183, 185, 186, 195, 201, 
202, 203, 207, 229, 230, 233, 266, 289, 
290, 308, 317, 327, 348, 358 

Daily Chronicle, 88, 139, 140, 155, 
157, 190, 225, 229, 230, 232, 233, 307, 
311, 317, 324, 325, 353 



Sunday Express, 96, 140, 172, 175, 
180, 205, 233, 264, 269, 304, 326 

Daily Telegraph, 108. 

Daily Mail, 109, 129, 133, 193, 205, 
224, 229, 258, 267, 271, 307, 324 

Weekly Dispatch, 109, 115, 180 

Sunday Dispatch, 175, 227, 230 

Sunday Referee, 120, 121, 155, 226, 
233, 271, 272, 316, 318, 352, 360 

The Referee, 297, 299, 301 

Sunday Chronicle, 135, 261 

News-Chronicle, 140 

New York Herald, 156 

Westminster Gazette, 158 

Berliner Tageblatt, 271 

Berlin Z-Mittag, 274 

Daily Mirror, 283 

Sunday Worker, 287, 290 

Daily Worker, 287, 288 

Star, 314, 316 



2. Journals. 

(a) Weeklies. 

The Film Weekly, xxvii, 20, 117, 120, 

121, 148, 227, 288, 302, 304, 316 
World's Press News, 4, 11, 149 
Nation and Athemeuin, 31 



395 



396 



INDEXES 



Black Year (Moscow), 60 

Medical Press, 60 

Monde (Paris), 95, 96, 121, 150, 338, 

354 
Cinematograph Times, 118 
Methil " Spark," 189 
Everyman, 230 

European Press (Germany), 246 
New Leader, 288 
Plebs, 288 
G.K.'s Weekly, 299 
Kinematograph Weekly, 329 
Cinema, 357 



(b) Monthlies. 
The Little Review (New York), 32 
Bermondsev Book, 70 
Close Up, ilO, 156, 258, 285-92 
American Mercury, 174 
Realist, 179, 184 
Review of Reviews, 226 
Contemporary Review, 240 
Pearson's Magazine, 249 
Plebs, 288 



(c) Quarterlies. 
Sociological Review, 38, 163, 172 
The Quest, 165 
Artwork, 259 

(d) Annuals. 
Cinema Year Books, 81 
Daily Mail Year Book, 95, 154, 222, 

273, 297, 323-4 
Kinematograph Year Book, 122 
Theatre, Music Hall and Cinema 

Blue Book, 317 

(e) Supplements. 
The Times Film Number, 19, 20, 23, 
96, 97, 162, 207, 294, 310, 338 

3. Documents and Reports. 

Labour " Historical Synopsis," 20. 
International Labour Bureau Statis- 
tics (Geneva), 121 
The Cinema (see Books) 
Sociological Papers, 355 



4. Picture Production Co.'s 
Publications. 
Fox News, 110, 134 
Universal Pictures Souvenir, 115, 

143 
First National Pathe" Publicity 

Sheet, 128, 142, 167, 168 
Fox Newspaper Service, 141, 158 
Picture Corporations Publicity 

Sheets 149-50 
First National Path6 Gazette, 304 

5. Books. 
The New Spirit in the Russian 

Theatre, xvi, xxviii, xxix, 4, 5, 

329 
The New Spirit in the European 

Theatre, 4, 49, 83, 147, 177, 239, 

329 
The City of To-morrow, xxvii 
All Quiet on the Western Front, 3, 

270 
The Case of Sergeant Grischa, 3 
The Bible, xxiv, 6, 7-13, (Genesis) 8, 

Books of Prophecy, 11, 48, 294 
Pre-existence and Reincarnation, 4 
The Civilisation of the Renaissance 

in Italy, 5 
Heraclitus, or the Future of the 

Film, 15 
The Film Finds Its Tongue, 19, 20, 

22 225 
The' King Who Was A King, 20, 190 
Evolution in Art, 23 
The Mind and Face of Bolshevism, 

28 
The New Word, 33 
Art, 36 

The Cinema, 47, 49, 111, 295-6 
Believe It or Not, 142 
Romance of Commerce, 143 
Secrets of a Showman, 143 
Sex in Civilisation, 175 
Erotic Symbolism, 177 
Crime and Drama, 197 
Degeneration, 213 
New Vision in the German Arts, 

247 
Pudovkin on Production, 305 
Modern Theatre Architecture, 309 
Theatre Architecture, 310 
Cinema Literature (Russian), 340 

6. Works of Reference. 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 19, 20, 22 



INDEXES 



397 



(B) PERSONS AND PLACES. 

Pioneers and inventors of Cinema apparatus will be found in the 
chapter on the History of the Machine, pp. 17-22. 



Arnold, Matthew, 4 

Adam, 8 

Archer, William, 38 

Apollinaire, Guillaume, 55 

Arbuckle, " Fatty," 84 

Atkinson, G. A., 87, 88, 9G, 137, 172, 

179, 183, 201, 202, 203, 207, 229, 

230, 233, 304, 32G, 327 
Annan, Craig, 258 
Asquith, Antony, 283 
Armstrong, Dr. E. F., 137 



Berlin, xxv 

Browning, 4 

Burckhardt, Jacob, 5 

Brown, Ivor, 6 

Betts, Ernest, 15 

Bergson, 24 

Bakst, 24 

Bow, Clara, 28, 134 

Brigstocke, W. O., 30 

Bell, Clive, 36 

Biograph, 43 

Bernhardt, Sarah, 43 

Bunny, John, 61, 82 

Barry, Iris, 109, 129 

Brighouse, Harold, 109 

Barrie, Sir James, 135, 304, 375 

Busch, Mae, 136 

Borthwick, A. T., 140, 359 

Beltran-Mass£s, Frederica, 176, 179 

Banky, Vilma, 178 

Baughan, E. A., 187, 188, 260 

Brunei, Adrian, 188 

Barrymore, John, 205 

Burnup, Peter, 227, 230 

Bruguiere, Francis, 283 

Blakeston, Oswald, 283 

Beaverbrook, Lord, 299, 307 

Balcon, Michael, 302 

Bundy, A. E., 303, 325 

Butt, Sir Alfred, 326 

Bennett, Arnold, 360 



Comte, A., xvii, xxx 

Crcesus, xxiv, 7, 249 

Cochran, C. B., xxvii, 143, 147, 156, 

257, 326, 353, 355 
Carpenter, E., 4 
Christ, 7, 8, 11, 259 
Cezanne, 23 
Chaplin, Charles, 28, 43, 53, 61, 66, 

82, 88, 113, 129, 152-3, 193, 223 



Clair, Rene, 56, 92 

Copeau, Jacques, 56 

Czecho-Slovakia, 56, 74 

Chekov, 61 

Circle Frangais de la Presse Etran- 

trere 91 
Calvacanti, 92 

Churchill, Winston, 108, 112 
Cooper, Lady Diana, 109, 115 
Coogan, Jackie, 129 
Compson, Betty, 137 
Callisthenes, 143 
Calverton, V. F., 175 
Crozier, General, 190 
Costello, Dolores, 195 
Colburn, Alvin, 258 
Crawfurd, Major, 300 
Cunliffe-Lister, Sir Philip, 300, 302 
Craig, Sir Gordon, 302, 318,9, 359 
C.A.L. (Observer), 348 
Civic Centres (Ancient and Modern), 

366 
Cathedral, Theatre-Cinema, 366 



da Vinci, Leonardo, 17 

Day, William, 19, 20 

Descartes, 33 

Darwin, 33 

de Segonzac, Dunoyer, 45 

Dickens, 48 

Dulac, Germaine, 56 

Davis, F. C, 70 

de Putti, Lya, 129 

Dove, Billy, 134 

Davis, Geoffrey, 163 

Disney, Walt, 171-2 

Dean, Basil, 229, 357-8-9-60, 363 

De Mille, Cecil B., 88, 258, 348 

Douglas, James, 264, 326-7 

Donald, Robert, 273 

de Courville, Albert, 326 

Dovjenko, 335 

du Maurier, Sir Gerald, 358 



Eve, 8 

Einstein, 30 

Essanay, 43 

Eisenstein, 46, 89, 94, 288, 305, 341 

Ervine, St. John, 108, 279 

Ellis, Havelock, 177 

Ewer, Monica, 188 

Exter, Alexandra, 251 

Elstree, 293 



398 



INDEXES 



Fox, W., xviii, 15, 63, 116-18, 101, 

224 
France, xxvi 
Flanagan, Hallie, xxviii 
Fergusson, J. D., 24 
French Advance-Guard Painters, 

Poets and Musicians, on p. 55. 
Feyder, Jacques, 56, 92, 95. 
Frederick, Pauline, 109 
Fleming, Ethel, 115 
Farnol, Jeffery, 130 
Faulkner, W. G., 154, 222, 273, 297, 

323-4 
Fairbanks, Douglas, 28, 52, 63, 88-9, 

163 
Fejos, Paul, 201 
Freud, 5, 242 
Fletcher, John, Gould, 259 
Fanck, Dr. Arnold, 269 
Fawcett, L' Estrange, 294-5 
Federation of British Industries, 

316, 326, 360 
Film Industries : 

Polish, 75 

Baltic States, 79 

French, 93, 95 

Italian, 96 

Spanish, 96 

American, 121, 143-5, 346 

British, 294-7, 347, 352 

Russian, 96, 337 
Film Production Corporations and 
Companies: 

Poland Esti-film Syndicate, 78 

Czecho-Slovakia, A.B., Poja, 
Lloyd, Emelka, 272, Atropos, 87 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 88, 116, 
122, 152, 268, 317 

Universal, 88, 110, 115, 122, 203 

United Artists, 88, 139, 152-3 

Cineromans, 95 

Paramount Famous-Lasky, 41, 122, 
155, 159, 203, 207 

Fox, 116-24, 136, 155, 156-8, 268 

Warner Bros., 116-17, 122, 139, 
155-6, 227, 233, 268 

First National Pathe, 116-17, 122, 
156 

Radio Corporation (R.K.O.), 117, 
155, 232-3, 321, 358 

Western Electric, 117-8, 227, 232-3, 
321 

U.F.A., 248, 262, 269, 272-6, 281 

Sovkino, 337, 339 

Mejhrabpom, 337, 339 

Gosvoenkino, 338 

Russian State Production Cos., 
338 

Atlas Renting Co., 360 

Ideal Films, 307 



W. & F. Film Service, 307 
Gaumont-British, 88, 120, 158, 276, 

289, 294, 306-7, 315 
Pathe Exchange, 122 
British Instructional, 294, 302, 304 

315-6, 325 
Gainsborough, 294, 317 
British International, 315-6 
Whitehall Films, 316-7 
Associated Radio Pictures, 358 



Germany, xxvi 

Geddes, Patrick, xxx, 27, 38, 354 

Galsworthy, John, 3, 4, 359, 364 

Garvin, J. L., 3 

Goldwyn, S., 15, 85, 116, 155, 223 

Green, Fitzhugh, 19, 20, 22 

Griffith, D. W., 26, 31, 42, 43, 48, 51, 

76, 85, 87, 88, 194, 252 
Gance, Abel, 56, 95 
Gogol, 61 
Gorvin, John, 64 
Garbo, Greta, 129 
Glyn, Elinor, 134, 169 
Gaynor, Janet, 134 
Guilbert Yvette, 134, 185 
Gibson, Hoot, 169 
Giotto, 251 
Greenwood, Arthur, 300 



Herriot (see Quota) 

Hollywood, xxv, xxvi, xxx-ii, 8-10, 

21, 49, 90 
Hearn, Lafcadio, 4 
Hell, 7-13 
Haddon, A. C, 23 
Hessling, Catherine, 29 
Hays, Will, 58, 174, 200 
Howard, Clifford, 110 
Harman, A. Jympson, 226 
Hauptmann, G., 240, 274 
Hoffmann, Carl, 256 
Hinton, Horsley, 258 
Hugenberg, Alfred, 271-5 
Hardy, Thomas, 304 



Inverclyde, Lord, 136 
Inge, Dean, 194 



Jugo-Slovakia, 74 
June, 136 

Jolson, Al, 139, 225, 229 
Jannings, Emil, 257, 274 



Kennedy, Joseph P., 117 
King, W. G., 128 



INDEXES 



399 



Kenyon, Doris, 108 
Kahn, Otto, 229 
Kaiser, F., 242 
Kontingent (see Quota) 
Kuleshov, 305 
Kinsila, 309 



Negri, Pola, 109, 121, 134, 182 
Nathan, George Jean, 174 
Novello, Ivor, 181 
Newton, H. Chance, 197 
Nordau, Max., 213 
Niblo, Fred, 255 



Lapworth, Charles, 317 
Lye, Len., 283 
London, xxv, xxxii 
Le Corbusier, xxvii 
Leplay, xxx 

Lutozlawski, Wincenty, 4 
Luther, Martin, 9 
Leger, F., 32 
l'Herbier, Marcel, 50, 92 
Lenin, 00, 239 
Laemmle, Carl, 115, 224 
Loew, Marcus, 110, 153, 208 
Low, Professor, 138 
Lasky, Jesse L., 159, 232 
Lewis, Wyndharn, 170 
Lonsdale, Frederick, 224, 229 
Ludwig, Dr. E., 205 
Lubitsch, 274, 283 

M 

Mussolini, xviii, 135, 355 

Moscow, xxv 

McE., D. L., 200 

Marinetti, 24 

Murry, J. M., 24 

Melie, 24 

Miller, Fiilop, 28 

Macfall, Haldane, 30 

Mottershaw, Frank, 40 

Mix, Tom, 52, G3, 134, 130, 103, 109 

Maynard, Ken, 03, 109 

Moskvin, A., 88 

Mencken, 109 

Movie Towns, 11G 

McLaglen, Victor, 133 

Murray, Mae, 139 

Mead, G. R. S., 105 

Maurois, Andre, 175 

Mdivani, Prince Serge, 182 

Montagu, Ivor, 188, 289, 305 

Marx, 239 

Meyrink, Gustav, 250 

Murnau, 255, 274 

Meyer, Sir Frank, 300 

Moore-P>rabizon, Colonel, 300 

Maxwell, John, 303, 310 

Moliere, 304 

Moussinac, Leon, 338, 354 



New York, xxxii 
Nagel, Conrad, 28 
Nansen Mission, 58, 04 



O'Casey, Sean, 304 
O'Brien, George, 195 
Oman, Sir Charles, 205 
O'Connor, T. P., 200. 



Pudovkin, 24, 94, 128, 281-2-3, 288, 

305, 334, 341 
Pickford, Mary, 28, 43, 82, 88, 134, 

174, 184 
Paul, F., 43 
Poirier, Leon, 188 
Peterborough, Dean of, 194 
Poelzig, 250 



Quota, 89, 297-300, 313-18, 340 
Kontingent, 272-5, 298, 340 
Herriot (Quota) decree, 94, 95, 298 



Russian Ballet, 308 
Reichstag, The, 208 
Russia, xxvi, 27, 40, 57, 59, 01, 77, 

180 
Remarque, E. M., 3 
Rice, Estelle, 24 
Renoir, Jean, 29, 50, 92 
Rembrandt, 30 

Reinhardt, Max, 42, 242, 250, 274 
Riddell, Lord, 48 
Rozycki. Ludomir, 77 
Rappe, Virginia, 84 
Rogers, Will, 88, 130 
Robey, George, 139 
Rambova, Natacha, 170, 179 
Reid, Wallace, 179 
Rich, Irene, 184 
Renard, Ray, 203 
Rohmer, Sax, 200 
Reimann, Walther, 249 
Rohrig, Walther, 249 
Rabinovitch, Isaac, 251 
Rose, Henry, 259 
Rothermere, Lord, 2(58 
Roger son, Sidney, 380 



Shaw, G. B., xviii, 30, 135, 174-5, 320, 

359, 303, 374-8 
Solon, xxiv, 7, 249 
Swaffer, Hannen, 3, 183, 348, 358 
Satan, 7-13 



400 



INDEXES 



Snowden, Philip, 14-15, 300 
Schenck, J., 41, 88, 116, 157 
Sennett, Mack, 43 
Shakespeare, 48, 304 . 
" Stars " : 

Early Western, 03 

Early Comic Shorts, 82 

Classified Lists, 132 

" Baby " Women, 134 

Table of Salaries, 139 

Income Tax Evasion, 141 

Investments, 141 

United Artists, 153 
" Spotlight " (Sunday Referee), 318- 

19, 360 
Sachs, E. O., 310 
Seabury, W. M., 299, 301 
Sheridan, Victor, 304, 348, 355 
Swaythling, Lord, 289 
Steichen, Edouard, 258 
Stieglitz, Alfred, 258 
Scotland, John, 226 
Selfridge, H. Gordon, 143-5 
Sills, Milton, 168 
Salusbury, F. G. H., 175 
Stendhal, 183 
Shanks, Edward, 189 
Sjostrom, Victor, 209 
Sherwood, Robert E., 226 
Scheffauer, H. G., 247 
Sturm Group, 250 
Squire, J. C, 260 



Tennyson, 4 
Terry, Ellen, 43 
Tippett, John D., Ill 
Tunney, Gene, 130 
Terris, Ellaline, 188 
Toller, Ernst, 240, 242 
Topp, Arnold, 250 



Tree, Sir Herbert, 309 
Tennyson, Charles, 315 
Turin, 338, 341, 361 



Upward, Allen, 33 
Universal City, 115 



Vertov, Dziga, 24, 94, 281, 288, 305, 

335, 341 
Valentino, Rudolph, 89, 134, 176-83, 

207. 
Venus Types, 134 
Veidt, Conrad, 212, 274 



Warner Brothers, 15, 117-8, 161, 224 

Wells, H. G., 20, 190, 304, 359, 375-7 

Warsaw, 72 

Wyspianski, 75 

Weigall, Arthur, 109. 113 

Wodehouse, P. G., 109 

Williamson, Alice U., 109, 132 

Whittaker, Charles, 109 

Wall Street, 108-10, 117-24, 226, 229 

Whiteman, Paul, 139 

Wilde, Oscar, 176 

West, Rebecca, 179, 183-4 

Woolfe, Bruce H., 189, 302, 326 

Wallace, Edgar, 204, 303 

Wedekind, F., 242 

Warm, Hermann, 249 

Walden, Herwarth, 250 

Warner, H. B., 259-60 

Woolf, C. M., 302 



Zweig, Arnold, 3 

Zukor, Adolph, 43, 116, 159, 268 



(C) CINEMAS, THEATRES AND STUDIOS. 



Avenue Pavilion, 29, 262, 287-8 
Astoria, 310 



Deutsches Theatre, 243 
Dominion, 313, 326 



Beba, 274 



Empire, 310, 311 



Coliseum (Warsaw), 78 
Covent Garden, 262 
Capitol, 310, 312, 325 



Fliiger, Kine, 84 

Fata Morgana, 243 

Five Thousand, Theatre of The, 250 



INDEXES 



401 



German theatre (war time), 43 



Palace Kino (Warsaw), 76 
Polski Theatre, 77 
Plaza, 310, 311 



His Majesty's Theatre, 309, 311 
K 

Kristall Palace, 274 

L 

London Pavilion, 308 
London Opera House, 308, 313 

M 
Marble Arch Pavilion, 95 
Metropole, 310 

o 

Opern Kino, 84 



Palladium, 308 
Paramount, 41, 156 
Proletcult, 46 
Polish theatre, 75 



Roxy, 41, 158 
Kialto, 274 
Regal, 310-11 
Regent, 310 



S 



Stylowy Kino, 78 

Studios, Austrian, 85 

Studios, British (London districts), 

302 
Studios, Russian, 338 



Tivoli, 157, 289, 310, 311 



U.F.A.— Pavilion, 255 



Vieux-Colombier, theatre, 56 
Vaudeville, 358 



(D) PICTURES AND PLAYS. 



American Comedy, 52, 62, 82, 91, 171 

Armageddon, 189, 304 

Abraham Lincoln, 200 

Air Circus, 201 

Arms and the Man, 209 

Aelita, 251 



Blackmail, 325 

Birth of a Nation, 42, 46, 51, 87 
Ben Hur, 46, 153, 194, 225, 255-6 
Broncho Bill, 52 
Biograph, 43 
Border Legion, 66 
Broken Blossoms, 76 
Big Parade, 153, 174, 187, 189, 225 
Baby Cyclone, 183 
Blighty, 188 
Battle of Arras, 191 
Belphegar, 196 
Broadway, 198, 201-3 
Blindfold, 212 
Beau Geste, 225 
Black Pirate, 225 
Broadway Melody, 230, 324 
Bismarck, 254 
Bed and Sofa, 289 
Bluebottles, 304 

Battles of Coronel and Falklands, 
304 



Cartoon, The: 

Mickey Mouse, 29, 171-2, 278 

Krazy Kat, 29 

Felix the Cat, 29, 30, 278 

Inkwell, 29 

Sammy and Sausage, 29 

Oswald Sound, 29 
Caligari (see D) 
Come Across, 200 
Cowboy pictures, 48 
Cabiria, 52 
Chicago Crime, 62 
Casanova, 78, 95 
Czecho-Slovakian, 87 
Carmen, 95 
Crime, 105, 173, 303 
Court Martial, 191 
Christ Pictures, 193 
Cock-Eyed World, 325 



Dracula, 92 

Dr. Mabuse, 92, 244, 249-51 

Dr. Caligari, 244-5, 249-53, 283 

Du Barry of To-day, 269 

Daydreams, 304 

Dety Boory, 333 

Decembrists, 365 



402 



INDEXES 



Eternal City, 51, 53 

Essanay, 43 

Elmo the Mighty, 79 

Emden, 254, 270 

End of St. Petersburg, 289, 338 

Eleven, 335 

Escape, 359 



Finis Terrae, xxxi 

Favourites of the Tsar, 75 

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 

187, 207 
Four Sons, 189, 192 
From Manger to Cross, 194 
Fear, 213 

Fox Movietone Follies, 230 
Faust, 46, 248, 254, 255, 256-8 
Fall of the Dynasty of the 

Romanovs, 334, 33S 



Great Gabbo, 29 

(.-rent; Train Robbery, 119 

Gosta Berling, 129 

General Crack, 205 

Gamblers, 212 

Golem, 249 

General Line, 338 



Hamlet, 15 

Humanity, 43 

Heroism of the Polish Scout, 70 

Hercules Armstrong, 78-9 

Her Wild Oats, 128 

Hawk of the Hills, 167 

High Treason, 190, 325 

He Who Gets Slapped, 209 

Holy (or Sacred) Mountain, 269 

His Excellency, 334 

Harbour of Death, 338 

Hit the Deck, 359 



Intolerance, 51, 87, 194, 207 
In the Ranks, 53 
I.N.R.I., 194, 255 
Informer, 304, 325 
Ivan the Terrible, 334 



Judith of Pethulia, 52 

Jane Shore, 53 

Jazz Civilisation, (52, 170 

J 'Accuse, 91, 187 

Jazz Singer, 230 

Juno and The Paycock, 304, 325 

Joan of Arc, 317 



Keystone, 43 

King of Kings, 193, 255, 258-61 



La P'tite Lilie, 29 

Little Match Girl, 29 

Luther, Martin, 46, 254, 255, 262-66 

Les Miserables, 52 

Last Moment, 202, 209, 253 

Lonesome, 202 

Last Performance, 212 

Lights of New York, 213 

Loves of Jean Ney, 253 

Last Laugh, 283 

Light Rhythms, 283 

M 

Mangy Dog, 127 
Monsieur Beaucaire, 180 
Moscow Laughs and Weeps, 185 
Metropolis, 190, 269, 275 
Manhattan Knights, 199 
Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu, 206 
Man Who Laughs, 253 
Mabuse (see D) 
Marquis D'Eon, 272 
Mother, 289, 334, 338 

N 
Noah's Ark, 4(5, 194, 204 
Napoleon, 77, 95 
Napoleon and the Hundred Days, 

241 
Nibelungs, 254, 256 
9th of January, 334 



On With the Show, 157 
Old Ironsides, 174, 206 
Out of the Ruins, 191 
Our Increasing Purpose, 192 
October, 338 



Petrushka, 28 

Pan Twardowski (Opera), 77 

Pearl of Warsaw, 7S 

Potemkin, 89, 274, 282, 283, 289, 334, 

335, 338 
Prince Louis Ferdinand, 254 
Polikushka, 332 
Pa hue and Fortress, 334 



Queen Elizabeth, 43 
Quo Vadis, 52-3, 207 



Russian comedies, 61 
Resurrection, 77 



INDEXES 



403 



Red Glove, 79 

Ringer, 190. 

Romance of the Underworld, 199 

Rhine, 254 

Red Tempest, 274 

Red Roses, 304 

Rookery Nook, 324 

Red Hell, 325 

Rio Rita, 359 

s 

Sign of the Cross, 53 

Shot, The, 76 

Stenka Razin, 88 

Son of the Sheik, 89 

Sex, 105, 173, 303 

7th Heaven, 191 

Shepherd of the Hills, 194 

Sweeny Tod, 197 

Sinister Man, 197 

Sea Beast, 200 

Secret Lie, 200 

Smashing Through, 201 

Sons of the Sea, 200 

Somehow Good, 209 

Sailors' Wives, 213 

Stella Dallas, 225 

Speak-Easy, 230 

Student of Prague, 253 

Siegfried, Part I., 254 

Secrets of Nature, 278, 304 

Storm Over Asia, 289, 338 

Shiraz, 304 

Splinters, 324 

Steven Khalturm, 334 

Shanghai Document, 335, 338 

Sixth Part of the World, 338 

Street Girl, 359 



Ten Commandments, 194 
Thunderbolt, 203 
Three Bad Men, 283 
Tusalava, 283 
Throw of the Dice, 304 
Turk Sib, 335, 301, 303 



Universal Pictures, 03, 88 
Under the Southern Cross, 185 
Under the Greenwood Tree, 304 
Union of a Great House, 334 



Vitagraph, 43 
Verdun, 95, 189 
Vaudeville, 129, 225, 281 
Valley of the Giants, 108 
Variety, 225 
Von Unruh, Fritz, 241 
Volga Volga, 274 

w 

Western, 52, 02-3, 91, 97-8, 100, 303 

Way Down East, 70, 87 

War, 105, 173, 187, 303 

What Price Glory, 133, 174, 187-8, 

189 
Wake Up and Dream, 150 
Wrings, 189, 191, 201 
Ware Case, 212 
White Cargo, 230 
Weavers, 240, 274 
Waxworks, 253 
Woman of Paris, 283 
Wings of a Slave, 334 



Tsarism and Its Slaves, 75 
Two Orphans, 70 
Taming of the Shrew, 88 



Ypres, 304. 



Zeebrugge, 304 



(E) CINEMA ORGANISATIONS, AND SOCIETIES. 



Film Societies, xii 

Sociological Society, 37 

Quest Society, 105 

Film Society, The, 42, 278-9, (Con- 
stitution and Members) 285-292 

Masses Stage and Film Guild (Con- 
stitution and Members) 285-292 



Federation of Workers' Film Socie- 
ties (Constitution and Members) 
285-292 

Close Up, 285-292 

Cinema Leagues and Clubs, 288 



See Contents Table. 



2. SUBJECT.